Steve Rucchin scored twice for the Mighty Ducks and nearly had
his first NHL three-goal game but his backhander that beat Jani
Hurme on a breakaway with 13:12 remaining was disallowed because
Anaheim had too many men on the ice.
A couple dozen hats came cascading down from the crowd of
13,254, who booed when the goal was waved off.
"It was very strange, no question about it,'' said Rucchin, who
scored twice in the first period 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.''
"He brings energy to our line,'' Olli Jokinen said. "He's a
good goal scorer and he fits in well with us. It was good to come
back from two goals down. We didn't play great for 40 minutes, but
we played well in the third.''
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 an NHL-high 13th
Andy McDonald and Kevin Sawyer also scored for the Ducks. Keith
Carney had two assists. It was the fifth time Anaheim took a lead
into the third period under rookie coach Mike Babcock and either
tied or lost.
"We played well, but we couldn't hold onto 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 minute, 46 seconds of the second period. But Sawyer made
it 4-2, banging home a rebound of Patric Kjellberg's short
backhander at 18:26 of the period for his third goal in 101 NHL
Rucchin opened the scoring 3:26 in. The puck bounced off the
skate of Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to Rucchin, whose shot
from a sharp angle bounced off the left side of the net and then
off Luongo's right pad.
After Matteau's goal tied it midway through the first, Anaheim
regained the lead just lead just 46 seconds later when Rucchin
converted a rebound of Carney's shot from the left point for his
seventh goal. That matched his total from last season when he was
limited to 38 games because of a broken leg.
At that point, Florida coach Mike Keenan replaced Luongo with
"We wanted to change the momentum, and it was an appropriate
time to do it,'' Keenan said. "We were a little sluggish at the
start, but we stuck with it and it paid off.''
Rucchin's two-goal game was his 14th in 474 NHL games. ...
Florida's fourth straight overtime game tied the longest streak in
club history and put the Panthers within one of the NHL mark. ...
The only other time this season that Anaheim scored three
first-period goals was Oct. 26 at Edmonton. ... The Panthers, who
entered the NHL with Anaheim in 1993-94, lead the series 8-4-3. ...
Florida and Anaheim share the record for victories by a first-year
team with 33, but the Ducks haven't had more than 36 in any season
since. ... Anaheim was 1-for-26 on the power play in last six
meetings with the Panthers. ... The Panthers have scored two
first-period goals in each of their last four games, after totaling
only two the previous six contests.