Fans, clad in jerseys and waving memorabilia, leapt from their red-cushioned seats in the lower level of the sports arena, and in unison let out a loud, long cheer: "Woooo!"
Francis' shot, executed less than a minute into overtime, elevated the Hurricanes 1-0 in the series against the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena in Michigan.
Fans around the Triangle, who have been snatching up 'Canes' paraphernalia, have been waiting for this moment since the team clinched the Eastern Conference a week ago.
A crowd of more than 8,000 gathered at the ESA to watch their beloved Hurricanes drag the Red Wings into overtime on Detroit's home ice.
Bradford Moore of Cary showed up Tuesday night at the ESA ready to root for his Hurricanes. Officials opened the arena to the hockey fans free of charge.
"I've been following hockey since I was 5 or 6, when my parents talked me into it," Moore said. "To see this many fans turn out for a televised game is unbelievable. This is the greatest time ever."
The doors to the ESA opened for guests at 7 p.m., but fans showed up well ahead of time to tailgate and socialize.
"We're real excited," said Annette DiBona, who attended the game with her husband, Anthony, and her sons, Nicholas and Joey.
The DiBonas are season ticket holders, so watching the game at the ESA, although this time on the video scoreboard instead of on the ice, is a tradition. This time, however, the family was able to tailgate before the event.