TORONTO (AP) _ Ron Francis never thought he'd be in the company of Maurice
``The Rocket'' Richard.
Francis scored his 545th goal, surpassing Richard for 20th place on the
NHL's career list, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1
on Monday night.
``When you hear your name mentioned with `The Rocket' that's awfully
special,'' Francis said. ``I never thought I'd be in that position. It's quite
an honor to pass him.''
The 40-year-old said he would give the puck to his father, who attended the
game. Francis is from Ontario.
``I've always considered myself more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, and
when a playmaker hears his name mentioned alongside Maurice 'The Rocket'
Richard, that's extremely special for me,'' he said.
Francis, standing alone at the side of the net, gave Carolina the lead at
4:47 of the third period after Jeff O'Neill's shot hit off the end boards and
deflected to him.
``It's a special moment for Ronnie. You couldn't be more happy for a guy
that's done so much for this organization and the game,'' Carolina's Erik Cole
said. ``He's showed me how to be a true professional. It's great for him. When
we jumped over the boards I saw him go grab the puck. That's going to be a nice
keepsake for him.''
Cole also scored a power-play goal for the Hurricanes, who have won just two
of their last 10 games.
Carolina went 2-for-3 on the power play after entering the game in a
0-for-11 slump. The Hurricanes have the worst ranked power-play team in the
Toronto went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
``We never put any good pressure on them,'' Toronto captain Mats Sundin
said. ``We have to get better.''
Leafs backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist made his third straight start in place
of the injured Ed Belfour. Tellqvist lost for the first time this season, but
he continues to make a strong case to remain the backup when Belfour returns.
Belfour has missed nine of the last 10 games because of a back injury.
Regular backup Trevor Kidd is 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals in his last five
Tellqvist made 27 saves. He stopped Cole on a breakaway in the third period.
``We can't blame it on him. He had an excellent game,'' Sundin said. ``It
could have been 3-1 after that breakaway. He gave us a chance, and that's all
you can ask.''
Carolina's Kevin Weekes stopped 28 shots. Weekes shut out the Maple Leafs at
Air Canada Centre on Jan. 27.
Toronto's Bryan McCabe knocked Pavel Brendl out of the game with a crushing
hip check late in the second period. Brendl took a while before getting up.
``He's got a collarbone injury. It's pretty substantial,'' Carolina coach
Peter Laviolette said. ``He's going to miss some time. He's got big collarbone
Earlier in the period, Toronto's Bryan Marchment sent O'Neill to the ice
with a hip check.
Moments later, Toronto's Nik Antropov hit the goalpost on a 2-on-1.
A few minutes after that, Antropov gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with a
short-handed goal. Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky skated in on a partial
breakaway before putting a shot on Weekes. Weekes lost the puck under his pads
before Antropov pushed it across the line.
Cole tipped Sean Hill's shot from the blueline, tying it on the power play
late in the second period.