SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)—Playing his first NHL game, Brad Fast helped the Carolina Hurricanes avoid an embarrassing to their season.
Fast scored his first NHL goal with 2:26 left in the third period and Carolina tied the Florida Panthers 6-6 after squandering a four-goal lead Sunday.
“I never really expected or thought of scoring in my first game, said Fast, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Saturday. “It’s a thrill for it to be the game-tying goal. That makes it even better.”
Fast tied the game at 6 with a wrist shot from the right circle to help the Hurricanes complete their own comeback. After going up 4-0 in the first period, Carolina trailed 6-4 in the third.
“As I was circling back (in the offensive zone), the puck squirted over to me,” Fast said. “I shot it towards the net. I know it hit something and wound up beating (goalie Roberto) Luongo. That’s all I can remember. It’s kind of a blur.”
Vrbata’s first-period goal snapped Carolina’s 0-for-30 power-play drought.
“We should have never gotten down when you are up 4-0,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s the bottom line. The mental toughness, I guess, gets a good mark. The bad mark is we put ourselves in that position.”
Donald Audette had two goals and two assists for the Panthers. Christian Berglund also scored twice for Florida. Mikael Samuelsson and Kamil Piros had the other goals, while Olli Jokinen and Mike Van Ryn each had three assists.
“Six goals should be enough to win the hockey game,” Jokinen said. “We kind of quit playing in the last 10 minutes and they bounced back. It was a good game for fans, but we wanted to win, so we can t be satisfied.”
Carolina is winless in its last six visits to the Office Depot Center (0-5-1), but the tie enabled the Hurricanes to secure third place in the Southeast Division with 76 points. Florida finished fourth with 75 points.
“I give our team credit,” Carolina center Kevyn Adams said. “We ended up keeping them from getting two points and keeping them below us in the standings.”
Luongo, who set NHL records for most saves and most shots faced this season, stopped 26 shots. Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe was replaced by Kevin Weekes after Audette s second goal made it 6-4 at 6:23 of the third period.
It was Florida’s third goal of the third period as the Panthers turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
“Both of their last two goals hit our guys before they went in,” Luongo said. “It’s very disappointing to end the season like that.”
Staal brought Carolina to within a goal at 15:04 with a wrist shot through traffic before Fast tied it up.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Carolina defenseman Sean Hill said. “It’s kind of fitting because they didn’t deserve to win either. It was a fitting wayfor both teams to end the season.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Jiggs McDonald, who is retiring as Panthers radio play-by-play voice, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Carolina’s four goals in the first set a season high for a period. The Hurricanes had scored three goals in a period on five different occasions. … The four goals tied Florida’s season high for goals allowed in a period, set against Colorado Jan. 21 and Washington Feb. 27. … The season series ended 2-2-2. … ThePanthers have lost only three of 11 season finales in their history (6-3-2).