Lightning, Hurricanes Deadlocked

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The worst road team in the NHL last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning had enough offensive punch to ruin the Carolina Hurricanes' homecoming for Ron Francis.

"It was nice to show a little character," Craig Janney said after he powered a third-period rally that enabled Tampa Bay, a winner of only six road games last season, to salvage a 4-4 tie with the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Janney had a goal and an assist as the Lightning came from 4-1 down on a night when they dug themselves into a hole because of problems with the power play on both ends.

Carolina built its lead by converting three of its first seven power-play chances. Tampa Bay, which went 0-for-6 on power plays in its opener Friday night against Florida, failed to convert on any of its first three opportunities against the Hurricanes.

"My theory on power plays is that you at least need to get chances - not necessarily goals," Janney said. "And we were getting our chances. So we knew one was going to bounce our way."

The comeback took the lustre off Carolina's highest-scoring season opener since 1986 and the return of Francis, who was traded away from the Hurricanes in March 1991 when they were the Hartford Whalers.

Francis, who remains the organization's all-time leader in goals, assists, hat tricks and game-winning scores, rejoined the team in July for a deal worth $21 million. He began paying immediate dividends Saturday night with a goal and an assist.

"We played like a team that wasn't accustomed to being up 4-1 after two periods, and it showed. We sort of got rattled in the third," Francis said. "It's a good thing we learned this lesson right off the bat and make sure it doesn't come up anymore."

The Lightning broke their power-play drought when, on a one-man advantage in the opening minute of the third period, Janney fed Wendel Clark in front of the net for his second goal of the game.

Jassen Cullimore made it 4-3 less than a minute later when Stephane Richer fed him from behind the net, and Janney tied it on a 25-foot blast with 11:27 remaining.

The best chance either team got the rest of the way was when Carolina's Keith Primeau had a breakaway with 3:30 left but was knocked down from behind by Pavel Kubina. No penalty was called.

Carolina got two good chances in overtime. Francis had a 15-footer that was smothered by Daren Puppa, and Primeau fanned on a shot 8 feet in front of the crease.

"I'm not happy about not winning," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "I'm not happy about not getting two points when we should have. But I think we made correctable mistakes."

Steve Chiasson added a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes and Jeff O'Neill had a pair of assists. Nelson Emerson and Robert Kron also scored for the Hurricanes.

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