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After poor start, Weekes stops 34 goals in the tie

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Allowing a bad goal 17 seconds in was out
of character for Kevin Weekes. The Carolina goalie more than made
up for it down the stretch Friday night.

Jeff O'Neill scored his team-leading 24th goal midway through
the third period and Weekes stopped 34 of 36 shots to continue his
hot streak as the Hurricanes spoiled Tampa Bay's bid for a share of
the Southeast Division lead with a 2-2 tie.

Weekes turned away seven shots in overtime, including two
breakaways.

''I just tried to make sure that I gave myself a good chance to
get in optimum position and I was able to do that,'' Weekes said of
his key saves on Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier. ''Each one
of those guys are very skilled guys and are very crafty players.''

Vaclav Prospal scored twice for Tampa Bay, which is four points off its total for last season with 21 games still
left.

''We deserved to win,'' Prospal said. ''We had a lot of
opportunities in the third period and overtime to take the game and
Kevin made some great saves. He was probably the difference.''

The Hurricanes trailed the Lightning 2-1 and had just 11 shots
on Nikolai Khabibulin through two periods. But O'Neill flicked a
pass from rookie Ryan Bayda past the surprised Tampa Bay goalie
with 9:48 left to salvage the tie.

O'Neill, bidding for his third consecutive season of 30 or more
goals, has five in his last seven games as the defending Eastern
Conference champions have at least a point in five of six games
since losing 14 of 15.

''If you are not going to go out there and play hard you saw
tonight that (Carolina coach Paul Maurice) is just going to put you
on the bench,'' O'Neill said. ''That's the way it's going to be.''

The Lightning could have tied Washington for first in the
conference with 66 points, but now trail by one. The Capitals have
played one more game than the Lightning.

''We had the right guys in the right situations,'' Tampa Bay
coach John Tortorella said of his team's late chances. ''Kevin made
some big saves. It certainly wasn't from a lack of effort from our
club.''

Prospal notched his first two-goal game of the season, scoring
17 seconds in and with 2:32 left in the second on a power play.

Weekes had stopped 141 of 149 shots over a four-game stretch,
but muffed his initial chance on this night.

The first dump in by Tampa Bay came out of the corner hopping.
Weekes whiffed with his stick as he tried to clear it and the puck
bounced between his pads and into the crease, where Prospal easily
poked it in for his 14th goal.

''That wasn't good,'' Weekes said. ''I tried to do three things
in one play and ended up making the wrong play and the puck
bounced. I should have just made the safe play. It was a bad
goal.''

Carolina didn't get its first shot until there was 8:51 left in
the first. However, the Hurricanes got three in five seconds about
a minute later as Jan Hlavac picked up the second rebound and beat
Khabibulin for his 10th of the season.

Prospal made the Hurricanes pay late in the second after Sean
Hill took consecutive penalties, taking a centering pass from Dave
Andreychuk in close and scoring 23 seconds into the Carolina
penalty.

Game notes
Carolina had its five-game streak of scoring first snapped.
... Eight of Hlavac's nine goals since being traded to Carolina on
Nov. 1 have come at home. ... Tampa Bay improved to 9-3-4-1 against
teams from the Southeast ... Richards saw his seven-game point
streak end. ... Carolina captain Ron Francis has gone 10 games
without a goal. ... Only Buffalo, Columbus and Nashville had fewer
road victories than Tampa Bay (eight) coming in.