Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/22/09 at 12:01 AM ET
Holy cow! A miracle at the RBC Center!
Jussi Jokinen deflected the game-winning goal with two tenths of a second left. The last time I saw anything like that was when Kevyn Adams scored a shorthanded overtime goal with one tenth of a second left at Atlanta on March 5, 2004.
Carolina dominated the first 39 minutes of the game, building a 3-0 lead. Eric Staal and Ryan Bayda scored one minute apart in the opening frame to give the media (and Carolina fans) what they wanted: a game where Carolina took the lead. The Canes also did what every Canes blogger was begging them to do: they shot the puck. And they established a forecheck and offensive pressure. And they forced New Jersey to take penalties. And they got physical. And they neutralized Parise/Zajac.
One of the biggest catalysts in the first period was when Dainius Zubrus elbowed Tuomo Ruutu at center ice just two minutes into the game. For the rest of the first period and the entirety of the second, Ruutu was on a mission. He ended the game with seven hits. Timmaaaay Gleason had eight. Dennis Seidenberg had eight. Later on, I’ll sort through the play-by-play to count up how many of those were delivered upon Mr. Zubrus.
Staal’s goal was a lunch pail type of goal. Dennis Seidenberg, of all people, created a lovely scoring chance. His shot wasn’t that great, but Marty left a juicy rebound for Staal on the right side of the low slot. Tuomo Ruutu was given the secondary assist on the goal, scored at 7:44.
Before the crowd could settle down, Ryan Bayda scored his second playoff goal at 8:47 on a really pretty one-timer in the high slot fed by Scott Walker. Joni Pitkänen got the second helper.
At this point, the roof had blown off the barn and the boys were flying. Also, perhaps, the Devils staggered out of the gates and found themselves in a hole.
Chad “Sharpie” LaRose scored his second playoff goal at 6:30 of the second when he tapped in his own rebound after going coast-to-coast unabated. Joe Corvo got the only assist. Marty made the initial stop, but kicked the rebound right back out to Sharpie for the easy goal. We had no way of knowing it at the time, but something eerily similar would happen later in the game.
There’s an old saying about goals scored in the first or last minute of any period. Unfortunately, Carolina forgot about Brian Gionta’s goal in the last minute of the first period in game three. It happened again. I think the guys were thinking about what jokes they were gonna tell in the room during intermission, and they simply didn’t finish the period. Gionta broke into the zone undetected and beat Ward badly on the breakaway. Mike Mottau and Brian Rolston assisted on the goal scored at 19:35.
That goal left a bad taste in my mouth, as I’m sure it did any Canes fan. Those things hurt.
It didn’t take long to become evident that Gionta’s goal was both a momentum builder for New Jersey and a confidence deflater for Carolina. Erik Cole took a silly penalty for boarding at 2:17 of the third, which played a huge role, just as Zubrus’ penalty in the first.
Brendan Shanahan gave the visitors new hope at 4:21 when he poked one in from the low slot. Cole’s penalty had just expired, so it was officially an even strength goal. Gionta and Nic Havelid assisted.
David Clarkson made the knot in my stomach become a double knot when he tied the game at 8:46. Seidenberg and Nic Wallin, who were otherwise extremely good, mysteriously left Cam out to dry with the puck deep in the Canes zone. Ward made a little save, but feebly kicked the rebound out into the low slot where he had no friends. Unfortunately, he also took himself out of the play by sprawling himself away from the shooter. Clarkson banged it in and the game was suddenly tied.
Canes fans couldn’t help but think, and Tripp Tracy commented, that this was the Molson Miracle in reverse. I had a really bad feeling about how the game would play out.
As the final minutes wound down, my bad feeling was getting worse and worse. Carolina had lost the momentum and it felt for all the world like it would go to overtime where Zach Parise would be the hero.
In the final three seconds, Dennis Seidenberg fired a shot from the right point into a forest of legs. The puck just barely glanced off Jussi Jokinen’s left skate and into the goal. The final horn and the goal horn sounded simultaneously, and we knew it would go upstairs for review. After a very brief review, it was determined that the puck crossed the goal line with two tenths of a second left. Holy cow indeed!
After the decision was handed down, an irate Marty Brodeur pled his case with the officials that he had been interfered with. The replays show that there may have been some contact between Jokinen and Brodeur, but it occurred outside the crease, and was initiated by Marty. Of course goaltender interference isn’t reviewable, but the opinion of the on-ice crew was that there was no interference. Brodeur didn’t like what he heard and very uncharacteristically pitched a fit, smashing his stick against the boards.
If this is anyone other than Brodeur, there would be a game misconduct and possibly a suspension for the outburst. I seriously doubt that the league is even remotely interested in disciplining him. And they shouldn’t. However, it wasn’t pretty.
Dennis Seidenberg made a major gaffe that led directly to the Clarkson goal, but he had a stellar night anyway. He had eight hits and five blocked shots. Added to that, he pitched in with two assists. Sadly, he wasn’t named one of the game’s stars.
Also, it should be noted that Travis Zajac and Zach Parise combined for one shot on goal and no points.
Now it’s a best of three series, and New Jersey has wrested home ice back from the Canes. Game five will be Thursday night at the Rock and game six will be back at the RBC.
I highly, highly recommend the brilliant Interchangable Parts blog for a Devils point of view. Not only are the authors of this blog very knowledgeable, but they possess a blistering wit. On top of all that, they and their readers have an uncommon levelheaded analysis of the game. Please give them a visit and take time to read the comments.
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Tags: brian+gionta, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, dainius+zubrus, dennis+seidenberg, eric+staal, jussi+jokinen, new+jersey+devils, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.