The Carolina Hurricanes made a big wave in the off-season when they signed Pittsburgh Penguins captain Ron Francis to a free-agent contract.
In their only meeting of the season with Phoenix, it paid off big.
Francis had two goals, starting a comeback with the second, as the Hurricanes fought back from three goals down in the third period to tie the Coyotes 5-5 Monday night.
Martin Gelinas, who assisted on the next-to-last goal, tied it with 1:34 left in regulation.
"They never were able to get the backbreaker," Francis said.
Ray Sheppard had a goal and an assist, and Jeff O'Neill also scored for the Hurricanes, who lost a goal 27 seconds into the third period when Gary Roberts' score was disallowed because of an early whistle by referee Dennis LaRue.
It would have cut Carolina's deficit to 4-3.
Instead, the Hurricanes got a point to help maintain their Southeast Division lead, and matched their best comeback of the season a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders last Nov. 5 in which they fell behind 3-0.
"That's not something we want to make a habit of, certainly," Francis said. "We were fortunate tonight to get a point out of this game, but you can't do it every night in this league and expect to be successful."
Keith Tkachuk had a goal and three assists for the slumping Coyotes, who couldn't hold onto their second straight win despite a 5-2 lead with less than 11 minutes to play.
"Definitely we got a positive out of it," Tkachuk said. "We got a point. But still, we've got to learn how to put a team away."
Jeremy Roenick, Bob Corkum, Deron Quint and defenseman Keith Carney, who scored his first in 82 games, also had goals for the Coyotes, 3-11-1 in their last 15 games.
Backup goalie Trevor Kidd, who entered the game after Arturs Irbe gave up Phoenix's fourth goal with 5:47 let in the second period, made 19 saves on the last 20 of the Coyotes' 42 shots. He had two kick saves against Tkachuk in the last 40 seconds and smothered Tkachuk's last shot with 13.8 seconds.
"Once they pulled their goalie, the next guy came in and stoned some of our real good players on some really great chances," Coyotes coach Jim Schoenfeld said.
Nikolai Khabibulin of the Coyotes had 24 saves.
The Hurricanes, who improved to 3-1-2 in their last six games, never quit.
After Carney sent Phoenix to a 5-2 lead by swatting a rebound out of the air with a baseball swing 8:09 into the third period for a short-handed goal, the Coyotes' Bob Corkum went to the penalty box for knocking Keith Primeau down in the crease.
Francis scored a power-play goal, his second, 9:28 into the final period to make it 5-3. O'Neill, left alone in front, took a pass from Gelinas from behind the net and scored to make it 5-4 with 4:35 to go.
The Coyotes, worn out by double-duty for their forwards after losing Dallas Drake with a sprained shoulder and Shane Doan with a bruised forearm in the first period, allowed the tying score when a shot by Andrei Kovalenko went off Gelinas' skate.
"We were on our heels for the first 10 minutes or so, but even when it was 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1, we could sense that we would be strong in the third, and I think they could sense it, too," coach Paul Maurice said.
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