DETROIT (Ticker) -- They may have been playing at Joe Louis Arena, but once the Carolina Hurricanes got the game to overtime, they were right at home.
Ron Francis scored on a deflection 58 seconds into the extra period, giving the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Given little chance to win the series against a team that was 25 points better during the season, Carolina continued its remarkable playoff success in overtime.
Jeff O'Neill, who scored the tying goal in the final seconds of the second period, slid a pass in front of the net from along the goal line. Francis was unchecked at the top of the crease and deflected the puck off the right side of goaltender Dominik Hasek for his sixth postseason goal and second career overtime winner.
"It's certainly up there (among the biggest goals)," said Francis, Carolina's 39-year-old captain. "I think anytime you score a goal, especially at this point in the season, it's special. When it comes in a situation like that, where it gives your team a win, obviously, it's even more special."
"It was so fast," said Hasek, who stopped 23 shots. "All of a sudden, it was in the net. I didn't even know how it happened. All of a sudden, they were wide-open in front of the net."
The Hurricanes improved to 7-1 in overtime in this year's playoffs. Only the 1993 Montreal Canadiens recorded more sudden-death wins (10) in a single postseason.
"There's a confidence level for sure," Carolina center Kevyn Adams said. "But I think we realize it doesn't just happen, you have to go out and earn it. You have to go out and work to get the chances. We've had different guys putting them in in overtime and making plays. That's what you need."
The Hurricanes also grabbed home-ice advantage from the Red Wings, who were expected to have little trouble with a team described so often as underdogs that coach Paul Maurice refers to his players as mongrels.
"We believe in this room we've got a good team," Carolina winger Martin Gelinas said. "We don't have the Fedorovs, the Yzermans, those type of players. But we've got some quality leaders like Ron Francis and (Rod) Brind'Amour, Glen Wesley. We're willing to play our system to be successful and it seems like we've been doing that since the beginning of the playoffs."
Carolina is 12-0 in the postseason when scoring at least two goals and ended a 12-game losing streak at Joe Louis Arena that dated back to 1989, when the franchise played in Hartford. Francis is one of the last links to that team, although he won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh between stints with the franchise.
"The thing that always stands out, that I have noticed over the four years (he's been here), is the bigger the game, the better Ronnie Francis plays," Maurice said.
O'Neill helped get the Hurricanes to overtime by beating the second period buzzer by 50 seconds. Former Red Wings defenseman Aaron Ward sent him in alone with a pass from just outside his own blue line.
O'Neill got behind Detroit's Sergei Fedorov, who had broken his stick and was heading to the bench. After bearing down on Hasek, O'Neill slid a shot under the goaltender that trickled toward the goal line. Hasek sprawled to stop it but ended up nudging in the puck with his outstretched left arm.
"I think that was big, to go into the dressing room, tied, 2-2, after the second," O'Neill said. "It was obviously better than down, 2-1. We tried to ride the momentum a bit, kept it close in the third and scored a big goal in overtime."
The Red Wings had four power plays in the game's first 21 minutes to just one for the Hurricanes. But Detroit teammates Igor Larionov and Kris Draper went to the penalty box 37 seconds apart early in the second period, giving Carolina a prolonged two-man advantage.
Defenseman Sean Hill cashed in with 37 seconds left on Larionov's high-sticking penalty, getting a cross-ice feed from Sami Kapanen at the top of the left faceoff circle and slapping a one-timer into the top right corner of the net.
All four of Hill's playoff goals have come on the power play.
The Red Wings squandered two more power plays before the "Grind Line" put them back in front just over seven minutes later. Draper checked defenseman Niclas Wallin behind the net, dislodging the puck. Darren McCarty got it and passed to the top of the right circle, where Kirk Maltby unleashed a wrist shot against the grain and under Irbe's right arm for his second postseason goal.
It was the first 5-on-5 tally allowed by Carolina since Game Six of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Montreal.
But O'Neill shifted the momentum 50 seconds before the end of the period with his fifth goal in the last eight games. It ended two periods played at breakneck speed and signaled the start of a more tentative and territorial game.
The Hurricanes had two power plays in the third period but combined for just one shot. And it took a clutch play by defenseman Marek Malik to keep the game tied.
With 9 1/2 minutes to go in regulation, Detroit's Brett Hull deked around a defender on the left side, then walked out in front and was poised to shoot on out-of-position goaltender Arturs Irbe. But Malik got enough of Hull's attempt to send it just wide of the right goalpost.
"At that point, I was just pleasantly surprised that he didn't get the shot on the net," said Irbe, who made 23 saves and improved to 6-0 in overtime. "I was glad that I could keep him from making the shot with the pokecheck, and by the time he got in position, Marek was there."
Carolina's Sami Kapanen, a 27-goal scorer during the season who has just one in 18 playoff games, never got off a shot on a 2-on-1 with 3:11 left.
The Red Wings had a chance to avoid overtime when Erik Cole was penalized for hooking with 1:41 remaining after twirling fellow rookie Pavel Datsyuk to the ice. But they could not convert and fell to 1-for-7 on the power play.
"You can analyze it any way you want, we had a chance to win it on the power play," Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said. "That's just like being in sudden death overtime."
Detroit was on its third power play when it grabbed the lead 15:21 into the first period.
Tomas Holmstrom drew an interference penalty on Wesley at 14:56, then made the key play 25 seconds later to set up the series' first goal. The 6-foot, 205-pound Swede camped in front of the net and was sent sprawling into the 5-8 Irbe by Ward.
That left Irbe helpless to stop Fedorov, who scored his fifth playoff goal off a rebound of Steve Yzerman's shot. Irbe protested but only briefly.
"There is no reason to start to scream your lungs out and waste energy," he explained. "At the end of the day, we came out on top, so I can't really get overly excited about it."