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Panthers score late to earn tie

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 25, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Panthers caught the Ducks with too many men and too many hats on the ice.

Kristian Huselius scored with 14 seconds left, and Valeri Bure had three assists as Florida capitalized on a disallowed goal for a 4-4 tie against Anaheim on Sunday.

Steve Rucchin scored twice for the Ducks and nearly had his first hat trick, but his backhander that beat Jani Hurme on a breakaway with 13:12 left was disallowed because Anaheim had too many men on the ice.

A couple dozen hats cascaded from the crowd and fans booed when the goal was waved off.

"It was very strange, no question about it," said Rucchin, who scored twice in the first against Roberto Luongo. "It was a huge turning point, obviously, but what are you going to do? I'd like to see it happen to somebody else.

"I feel bad for the people who lost their hats. I wouldn't be too thrilled to lose my hat for nothing. I guess they'll have to take that up with the refs."

The Panthers capitalized with 23 seconds left on the ensuing power play as Niklas Hagman beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it 4-3 with 11:36 left.

With Hurme off for an extra attacker, Bure threw a cross-ice pass to Sandis Ozolinsh, whose one-timer was tipped past Giguere by Huselius. It forced the Panthers into overtime for a league-high 13th time.

Stephane Matteau and Marcus Nilson also scored for the Panthers, who are winless in eight games, including two overtime losses and five ties.

It was the fifth time Anaheim took a lead into the third under rookie coach Mike Babcock and either tied or lost.

"We played well, but we couldn't hold on to the lead. And that's not good," Rucchin said.

"You have to give them credit for sticking with it and coming back."

The Ducks failed to score despite a five-on-three advantage they had for 1:46 of the second.

But Kevin Sawyer made it 4-2, banging home a rebound of Patric Kjellberg's short backhander with 1:34 left in the period for his third goal in 101 games.

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