Flyers claw to get tie with Carolina

Posted: February 16, 2003

This is how you earn a point in hockey games:

You're 5-foot-10, 185-pound Mark Recchi, and you're giving up 4 inches and 20 pounds to Bred Hedican as you battle for a puck in the left corner, using your strength, your stick, and your left skate to maintain balance and keep the puck alive.

Kim Johnsson comes in, digs the puck out, and fires on net. Recchi is there to chip the rebound off Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes. This time, however, the puck ricochets to Keith Primeau, who scores on a backhander.

Recchi was a big factor as the Flyers earned a 2-2 tie last night at the First Union Center against the Hurricanes, overcoming a two-goal deficit.

"We have to do that quite a bit now, because that is who we are," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're working really hard, clawing and scratching. When it was 2-0, I was a little worried we'd be shut out. For as hard as we had been playing, that would have been a hard pill to swallow."

Soon after the goal, Primeau was knocked silly when he was checked at mid-ice by Donald Brashear, who hit him accidentally. Brashear's left shoulder caught Primeau, knocking him to the ice. Primeau had to be helped off but returned minutes later.

"I had a headache, but I was able to regroup," Primeau said.

Brashear, who began last night's comeback with his fifth goal, said, "It was an accident. He made a move, and I moved, and we got in each other's way."

Although the Flyers didn't win the game - they had 44 shots, including two in overtime - they certainly deserved the point they got.

"We were outplaying them, we got down, but we stayed with it," Recchi said.

Carolina led by 2-0 before Brashear scored his first goal in 15 games to get the Flyers and the crowd back into the game.

Brashear took a laser crossing pass from Dennis Seidenberg and beat Weekes to the short side from about 20 feet to make it a one-goal game at 8 minutes, 10 seconds. He thought about one-timing the puck, but didn't. He also waved to Seidenberg for the pass.

"I wanted to make sure I got all of it," Brashear said. "I had the time to wait, and I got the shot I wanted. I was waving my stick and hoping guys saw me."

Primeau tied the score with his 15th goal less than five minutes later when he backhanded Recchi's rebound into the far corner of the net while moving laterally across the low slot. It was the captain's first goal in 12 games and only his second since the second half of the season began Jan. 11 against Detroit.

Recchi's work against Hedican was pivotal.

"We had a lot of that tonight," he said. "We had to battle through a lot of clutching and grabbing. KJ [Johnsson] got off a good shot, and I deflected it."

The Flyers had the upper hand for much of the night, even though they trailed.

O'Neill broke a scoreless tie at 6:21 of the second period with a bad goal as both teams were skating four-on-four. Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek went behind the net to settle a puck as Johnsson was coming around for it, which forced Johnsson to change his momentum. Cechmanek got the puck and tipped it to Johnsson, who was now stationary in the left corner, and Ron Francis was suddenly on top of him.

Johnsson hurriedly tried to clear the puck up the boards, but chipped it off Francis' skate directly to O'Neill in the high slot. Cechmanek, meanwhile, was taking his time getting back in the net and wasn't settled when O'Neill uncorked a wide open shot with no one within an area code of him for his 22d goal of the season.

Twice, the Flyers nearly tied the game later in the period. Weekes made a stick save on Jeremy Roenick's redirect of an Eric Desjardins point drive with both teams again having four skaters on the ice.

In the final minute, Sami Kapanen, playing against his former club for the first time, whiffed in the right slot on a nice setup pass by Roenick from the opposite side.

Four minutes into the third period, O'Neill gave the 'Canes a two-goal lead. He walked the puck from the back end and fired from the right circle. Johnsson lost it at his feet in the crease, as Sean Hill chipped it out from under him and past Cechmanek amid thunderous booing and angry stares from the bench by Hitchcock.

For the 11th time in 15 games, the Flyers failed to score in the opening period. Worse, not a single quality shot came from inside the crease. That was not the case with Carolina. During a four-minute double minor to Roenick for high-sticking Francis, the 'Canes had three quality shots in succession from the crease.

Francis, Ryan Bayda and O'Neill missed the net. Incredibly, O'Neill slid the puck across the crease from the left post and Bayda tapped the rebound high off the right post. Both shots were on the goal line.

If Carolina had scored, the Flyers might not have come back.

"We had to battle back again, but we salvaged a point," Primeau said.

Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.

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