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04/13/2014 7:45 PM EDT
Staal scores twice as 'Canes beat Flyers 6-5 in SO

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Sunday's regular-season finale felt almost
like a playoff game for Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller.

It's the closest his team will get this year.

Eric Staal scored twice in regulation and had the only goal in
the shootout to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-5 victory
over the Philadelphia Flyers in regular-season finale Sunday.

Jeff Skinner added a pair of goals for the Hurricanes, who
finish the season in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division,
outside of the playoff picture.

Wayne Simmonds scored twice for the Flyers, who had already
wrapped up third place in the Metropolitan Division and a date
with the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs
later this week.

"Games like this are good for our team," Muller said. "Not that
it's a playoff game or anything or but this is a tough rink to
play in, it was sold out and the guys were intense until the
end. For our guys to find a way to win was what we like to see
as coaches. It was a good finish for us."

Cal Heeter made 33 saves in his NHL debut for the Flyers, before
stopping one of two shots in the shootout. Heeter was recalled
from the Philadelphia Phantoms and given the start after Steve
Mason suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday's win over the

Mason is day-to-day but the Flyers are hopeful he'll be able to
return to net for Game 1 of their series with the Rangers.

"He battled back," Flyers head coach Craig Berube said of
Heeter. "It's tough for a kid like that coming in here. He's
nervous obviously and this is probably not the best situation
(for his NHL debut). But it is what it is and the kid hung in
there and did a good job."

Anton Khudobin made 39 saves and stopped all three of shots in
the shootout for the Carolina.

Skinner scored his 33rd goal of the season on a power play with
4:21 left, giving the Hurricanes a 5-4 lead after the puck took
a weird carom off the boards and left him shooting at an open

But Simmonds tied the game, scoring on a rebound with 9.5
seconds left for his career-high 29th of the season.

Fighting back in the final minute felt like a positive sign to
the Flyers heading into the postseason.

"If we play as a team and keep doing what we've been doing the
past few months, we'll be a really tough team to beat," Flyers
defender Kimmo Timonen said.

Trailing 4-1, the Flyers went on a second-period offensive,
scoring three goals to tie the game, including two within 10
seconds of each other - on a power-play slap shot from the point
from Kimmo Timonen and a wrister from Simmonds.

With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Sean
Couturier tied the game with a steal and pretty move on a
breakaway, matching his career high with his 13th goal.

"I thought we skated and were competitive the whole game,"
Berube said. "We were just looking for good habits and getting
our skating legs, and I thought that they did that."

Heeter's debut got off to an inauspicious start as he failed to
stop the first shot he faced, with Skinner beating him with a
wrist shot.

The Hurricanes scored twice more before the first period ended,
with Staal beating Heeter on a low shot from the left circle and
Manny Malhotra going five-hole on the rookie for his first goal
since Jan. 25.

Staal scored his second just 17 seconds into the second period
on an easy shot from the right circle.

"In my dreams, I'd say I didn't give up six goals," Heeter said.
"But it's a fabulous experience. I've been working my whole life
to get to here and to finally get the opportunity to play a game
and to have the support of the management, players, coaches,
fans, everybody here . it's a dream come true."

The Flyers scored their first goal midway through the first
period when Matt Read blasted in a one-timer from Jason Akeson,
who logged his first NHL assist. Akeson, who was called up from
the Phantoms for Sunday's game, has two points in two career NHL

Notes: Before the game, Claude Giroux was presented with the
Bobby Clarke Trophy, given to the team's MVP as voted on by
local sports writers and broadcasters. Mason, Timonen, Jakub
Voracek and Michael Raffl also won team awards, and Vincent
Lecavalier was honored for recently reaching the 400-goal
milestone. . The Flyers finished 0-2-2 against the Hurricanes
this season, marking the first time they went an entire season
without beating the Carolina/Hartford franchise since 1991-92.

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