NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Florida
(Sunday, April 4th)
Final Score: Carolina 6, Florida 6
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Donald Audette had two goals and two assists, tying a career high with four points in the game, as the Florida Panthers rallied from a four-goal deficit to tie the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-6, at the Office Depot Center.
Christian Berglund also notched two goals for the Panthers, who closed the season with just one win in their last nine games (1-6-1-1). Mikael Samuelsson and Kamil Piros also tallied for Florida (28-35-15-4), while Roberto Luongo had an off-night, stopping just 26 of the 32 shots he faced.
Rod Brind'Amour, Jesse Boulerice, Radim Vrbata, Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Brad Fast scored for Carolina (28-34-14-6), which ended its season by snapping a three-game losing streak. Arturs Irbe stopped 25 of the 31 shots he faced before being replaced by Kevin Weekes, who was a perfect 8-of-8 on shots faced.
Trailing 4-0 in the second period, the Panthers scored six unanswered goals to seemingly take control of the game. The first came courtesy of Samuelsson, who scored 1:14 into the second period. While being harassed by a defenseman taking the puck between the faceoff circles, he chipped the puck past a surprised Irbe to cut the Carolina margin to three goals.
With 4:12 remaining in the second period, the Panthers got within two goals on a great individual effort by Berglund. Berglund battled the whole way down the right side of the ice and carried the puck behind the net, emerging to Irbe's right with a backhander. Irbe stopped the original offering, but got the rebound on the forehand and wristed it past Irbe.
Cole was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play, and Florida quickly capitalized on the ensuing power play. Mike Van Ryn let loose a slap shot from the point that was deflected high and off the back boards. The puck dropped out to Audette at the left side of the net, and after he collected the bouncing puck, he was able to slide it in the net just 15 seconds after Berglund's tally.
Berglund then knotted the game at 4-4 only 1:46 into the third period. He was the target of an off-the-mark feed from Audette, with the puck lying behind the legs of Aaron Ward, who was stationed between Berglund and Irbe. Berglund managed to slide his stick between the legs of Ward and flick the puck into the top right corner of the net for the score.
The Panthers then scored on a power play at the 4:14 mark to take the 5-4 edge. Audette took the puck down the right side into the offensive zone and put on a burst toward the net. He faked a shot and centered the puck for Piros, who redirected it into the open portion of the net for the lead.
Audette then made it a 6-4 game a little more than two minutes later, when Van Ryn ripped a point shot and Kristian Huselius battled for the rebound. He put a shot on net and it trickled under the netminder, with Audette waiting at the other side of the goal mouth to stuff it home.
The goal chased Irbe from the game. Irbe had stopped just two of the five shots he faced in the third before getting pulled.
Carolina got one back on Staal's goal with less than five minutes remaining in the contest. He unleashed a wrist shot from the high slot after cutting across from right circle, and beat Luongo with a knee-high shot to the blocker side.
Florida tied it at 6-6 2:30 later, when Brind'Amour passed from the behind the net out to Fast near the top of the left faceoff circle. He collected the puck and snapped it on net. The disc deflected off a Florida defenseman in front and into the net for the equalizer, and Fast's first career goal.
Both teams had several excellent chances in the extra session, with Weekes making a tremendous glove save. However, neither team could find the back of the net, and neither squad will taste the post-season this year.
"We fought back hard, down 4-0. We haven't seen that all year," said Florida head coach John Torchetti. "We came back and go up 6-4 and didn't hold the lead. That just shows us how much more we have to emphasize this off-season getting some veteran leadership on this team."
Carolina got goals from Vrbata at the 5:21 mark of the first period and Boulerice just over three minutes later.
After Brind'Amour's tally at the 16:42 mark of the first made it a 3-0 game, Carolina scored its final goal of the opening stanza with 27 seconds left. Brind'Amour won an offensive left circle faceoff back to Cole, and he bulled his way to the net and put the puck past Luongo as he was being pulled down from behind.
This was Audette's second two-goal game with the Panthers...Carolina and Florida finished the season series tied 2-2-2...This was the fifth four-point game of Audette's career, the last coming on December 12, 2000...Florida defenseman Olli Jokinen recorded three assists and finished with 32 on the year, marking a new career-high for a season. He also ended the year on a four-game point streak...Carolina came into the contest on an 0-for-30 streak on the power play, but snapped that streak with Vrbata's score.
04/04 19:27:33 ET