Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/15/09 at 02:12 AM ET
On Thursday night, the Hurricanes faced the prospect of becoming the 22nd team in the history of the NHL playoffs to squander a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. After losing two games in a row and facing an elimination game, they did what was the most appropriate. They went to overtime. AND THEY WON!!!!!
Scott Walker, the villain from game five, scored the series winning goal at 18:46 of the overtime period. Please see my previous post.
This game had a little bit of everything. I predicted that within the first five minutes of the game, we’d know the winner. Both teams looked good coming out of the gates, for perhaps the first time in this series. Nothing was decided after five minutes, but the encouraging news was that Carolina was looking good.
Just a few minutes after that “make or break” moment in the game, there was a critical moment. Icing was called against Carolina when it shouldn’t have been. The puck was coming down for an apparent icing, Tim Thomas came out of his net and went below the goal line as if he was going to play the puck. The Carolina player gave up on the play, assuming that Thomas would play the puck, negating the icing. Although he was way out of the net and clearly behind the goal line. moving towards the puck, his non-play on the puck wasn’t taken into account. Rule 81.3 expressly forbids this type of shenanigans:
81.3 Goalkeeper - If, in the opinion of the Linesman, the goalkeeper feigns playing the puck, attempts to play the puck, or skates in the direction of the puck on an icing at any time, the potential icing shall not be called and play shall continue.
Thomas didn’t play the puck despite making an obvious feigning move towards it. Per the rules, play should have continued, but it was stopped. Boston was allowed new players while Carolina was not. The ensuing faceoff was deep in the Carolina zone. It was won by Boston, and seconds later a goal was scored by Byron Bitz. David Krejci and Dennis Wideman assisted on the controversial goal.
Carolina protested the icing call and the location of the ensuing faceoff, which should have been at center ice in a worst-case scenario. Instead, it went deep in the Hurricanes zone just like any other icing call would.
Carolina did its best to just let it go and play on. They managed to tie the score at 13:59 when Rod Brind’Amour scored his first goal of this playoff season. He tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the blue line. Credit for the goal changed hands at least twice, finally settling on Brindy. Joni Pitkänen picked up the secondary assist.
The first period ended in a deadlock, and both teams had to feel happy about the way they played.
Sergei Samsonov, the former Bruin, scored at 7:45 of the second to make it 2-1 Canes. He accepted a beautiful pass from Pitkänen at the bottom of the right circle and he beat Thomas for what narrowly missed being the seriies winning goal. Frantisek Kaberle recorded the secondary assist.
Milan Lucic leveled the score at two goals at 6:19. His goal-mouth stuff-in was set up very nicely by Marc Savard and also by Phil Kessel.
When the third period ended, the tension was very palpable. Every Canes fan everywhere and every Bs fan everywhere were on the verge of cardiac arrest. This is, however, something the Hurricanes are familiar with. For many Hurricanes players, this was the fourth consecutive seven game series, and it was certainly the second road game seven in a row. Carolina had won each of its previous three game sevens. By comparison, Boston hasn’t done so well in game sevens. The last time they won one was in (correct me if I’m wrong) 1994.
Carolina has been here and done that. They’ve actually been looking forward to the drama of game seven.
The common wisdom is that the overtime playoff game will most likely be decided in the first seven minutes. This one didn’t quite go that way. As the minutes wore on, it looked more and more like this would become a marathon overtime game. It didn’t happen like that either.
Scott Walker ended the drama by tapping in the rebound of a Ray Whitney shot in the low slot. Walker tipped it past Thomas for his first career postseason goal and obviously his first series winner. Whitney and Seidenberg got the helpers.
Carolina will now advance to the Eastern Conference final, where they will, for the first time in Hurricanes history, face the Penguins.
While this game was going on, the Red Wings managed to hold off the Ducks and were the only home team to win a game seven.
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About Red and Black Hockey
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.