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HURRICANES EARN A POINT AGAINST NHL's TOP TEAM

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff O’Neill scored his second goal of the evening at 6:40 of the third period Saturday night to give the Hurricanes a 2-2 tie with the Colorado Avalanche, the league's top team.

“Jeff O’Neill gets two goals,” said Carolina coach Paul Maurice. “What can you say. This guy is right now on pace to get at least 30. That’s pretty impressive.

O’Neill had already tied the game 1-1 at 17:14 of period one before he netted the game-tying goal. O’Neill earned first star honors for his two goals. O’Neill has earned points in six of his last seven games (12/23-1/6: 5g, 2a) and leads all Hurricanes with 15 goals.

“For me it goes all the way back to the (November 18) Jersey game,” said Maurice. “Jeff O’Neill just started to play hard. Every shift. Every game. He probably realized that he is the guy that we count on. The physical game first. The effort, that kind of drive. And the goals have followed.”

The Avalanche outshot the Hurricanes 17-3 in the first period but the scoreboard still reflected a 1-1 tie during the first intermission. Colorado forward Peter Forsberg registered his 13th tally of the season at 14:26 of the first to put the Avalanche ahead 1-0. Forsberg earned an assist on Shjon Poedin’s 10th goal of the season when he beat Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe at 7:15 of the second period.

Irbe stopped 34 of 36 Avalanche shots and was named third star of the game. Irbe says the sellout crowd of 18,730 and motivation from Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay (a 3-2 Carolina win) helped the Hurricanes earn a point against Colorado.

“We had a big crowd, we had a tough start to the game and things didn’t go our way,” Irbe said. “We almost blew the game away a couple of nights ago against Tampa and tonight we came back, I think.”

Maurice was pleased with Irbe’s performance, especially with Irbe's work against Colorado's Joe Sakic in the third period. Irbe stymied the Sakic, Colorado's leading scorer, at the left goalpost and shifted some momentum Carolina's way.

“He made a lot of good saves. The one on Sakic was outstanding,” said Maurice. “He’s played great for us. Forsberg and Sakic just don’t seem to ever get off the ice. He was going to have to play that kind of game to give us a chance and he did that.”

Tonight was Irbe’s 25th consecutive start in net for the Hurricanes and he is expected to start again tomorrow as the Hurricanes host the New York Islanders at 5 p.m.

Irbe will not lose any sleep over the back-to-back games.

“I get plenty of rest, that’s all," Irbe said. "It’s not the first time in my career that I’ve played back-to-backers. It doesn’t feel very good — I have to be honest, but tomorrow night’s not going to be any different than other back-to-backers. They’re actually flying in, so they’re a little worse off than we are.”

The Hurricanes are not the only team playing back-to-back games this weekend. The Avalanche began a five game road trip tonight and will play tomorrow night at Detroit.

Avalanche coach Bob Hartley felt his team should have won tonight’s contest but was satisfied with the outcome.

“(Carolina) played hard. They came. I thought that we deserved better but we’ll take that first point on the road,” said Hartley.

Captain Ron Francis, Carolina’s leading scorer at home this season with 18 points (6g, 12a) through 17 games, and defenseman David Tanabe each earned assists on O’Neill’s game-tying goal.

BOX SCORE
 1st2nd3rdOTTOTAL
Colorado11002
Carolina10102

First Period: Scoring: 1, Colorado, Forsberg 13 (power play) (Bourque,Klemm), 14:26. 2, Carolina, Oneill 14 (unassisted), 17:14. Penalties:Brindamour, Car (roughing), 2:55; Brindamour, Car (holding), 12:58;Hinote, Col (interference), 14:48.

Second Period: Scoring: 3, Colorado, Podein 10 (Forsberg, Deadmarsh),7:15. Penalties: Podein, Col (interference), 5:02; Colorado bench, servedby Dingman (too many men on the ice), 8:16; Parker, Col (interference),11:55; Dimaio, Car (holding), 17:20.

Third Period: Scoring: 4, Carolina, Oneill 15 (power play) (Francis,Tanabe), 6:40. Penalties: G Wesley, Car (tripping), 1:21; Sakic, Col(holding), 6:30; Hatcher, Car (interference), 17:04.

Overtime: Scoring: None. Penalties: G De Vries, Col (hooking), 4:27.

SHOTS ON GOAL
Colorado 171081--36
Carolina

3
7
7
4
--21

Power-play Conversions: Col - 1 of 5, Car - 1 of 6. Goalies: Colorado,Aebischer (21 shots, 19 saves; record: 5-3-2). Carolina, Irbe (36, 34;record: 14-14-5). A:18,730. Referees: Peel, Zelkin. Linesmen: Broseker,D Mccourt.

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER STATISTICS
Colorado    Carolina    
 GA+/-Shots GA+/-Shots
Bourque
Deadmarsh
Dingman
Drury
Forsberg
G De Vries
Hejduk
Hinote
Klemm
Messier
Miller
Parker
Podein
Pratt
Reid
Sakic
Skoula
Tanguay
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
even
even
even
even
+1
+1
even
even
even
even
-1
even
+1
-1
even
-1
+1
-1
6
2
0
3
7
3
1
2
2
1
0
0
2
0
1
3
0
3
Battaglia
Brindamour
Dimaio
Francis
G Wesley
Gelinas
Hatcher
J Daniels
Kapanen
Karpa
Langdon
Malik
Oneill
T Westlund
Tanabe
Vasicek
Wallin
Willis
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
+1
-1
even
+1
even
-1
even
even
-1
even
even
even
+1
even
even
even
even
even
1
3
0
1
1
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
3
0
4
1
0
1

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