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Francis Passes 'the Rocket'

February 24, 2004|From Associated Press

Ron Francis never thought he'd be in the company of Maurice "the Rocket" Richard.

Francis scored his 545th goal, surpassing Richard for 20th place on the NHL's career list, and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the host Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1, Monday night.

Francis, 40, said he would give the puck to his father, who attended the game.

"I've always considered myself more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, and when a playmaker hears his name mentioned alongside Maurice 'the Rocket' Richard, that's extremely special for me," he said.

Francis, standing alone at the side of the net, gave Carolina the lead at 4 minutes 47 seconds of the third period after Jeff O'Neill's shot hit off the end boards and deflected to him.

"He's showed me how to be a true professional," Erik Cole said of Francis. "It's great for him. When we jumped over the boards, I saw him go grab the puck.

"That's going to be a nice keepsake for him."

Detroit 1, Edmonton 1 -- Nicklas Lidstrom's goal midway through the third period at Edmonton, Canada, gave the Red Wings a tie.

The Red Wings gave goalie Marc Lamothe his first NHL start in four years and only the third of his career so they could rest Manny Legace.

Lamothe, 29, has played nearly 10 years in the minor leagues.

San Jose 4, Columbus 2 -- Jonathan Cheechoo scored the first of his two third-period goals on a penalty to help lift the Sharks over the road-weary Blue Jackets.

Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves for the Sharks, who extended the Blue Jackets' road winless streak to 11 games (0-8-3).

Montreal 4, New York Rangers 1 -- Jose Theodore made 31 saves at New York to end his five-game losing streak, and Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists.

Theodore was 0-5 with an .873 save percentage since playing in the All-Star game.

Florida 2, Boston 0 -- Roberto Luongo made 38 saves at Boston for his fifth shutout this season, handing Boston its first regulation loss in 13 games.

The last Bruin defeat in regulation was a 2-1 home loss to the Panthers on Jan. 24.

Boston has been shut out seven times this season, with six at home, a franchise record.

Tampa Bay 6, Washington 3 -- Martin St. Louis sparked the Lightning's four-goal third period at Washington with a goal and two assists.

The Lightning took command in the third period, when it outshot Washington, 14-2.

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