In 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils met in a playoff series, one that had many glorious moments. Including a great game with a great ending.
I have already talked about game 7 of this series, and how special it was to see the Carolina Hurricanes come back from 2 goals down in the final two minutes to get themselves into the second round. So now, I want to talk about game 4 and go from the Prudential Center in New Jersey back to the RBC Center as it was known in Raleigh.
Carolina would open the scoring midway through the first period through the most reliable source on the team. Dennis Seidenberg would carry the puck into the offensive zone, and drop it back to Tuomo Ruutu. Ruutu threw the puck on net and the great Martin Brodeur parried out a rebound to the then Canes captain. Eric Staal put the Canes in the lead.
Lightning would strike again at the RBC Center, as Joni Pitkanen carried the puck across the red line. Brodeur couldn’t cover the ensuing shot. Scott Walker would dig the puck out from under the great goalie. After a quick spin in the corner, Walker found Ryan Badya and Bayda would get himself on the score sheet. Carolina were 2-0 up before the midway mark of the 1st period.
Carolina would continue to dominate, getting chance after chance and forcing Brodeur to keep the Devils in the game. Carolina would dominate physically too as a couple of hits on Dainius Zubrus spring to mind. Carolina had complete control of this game in the first period, and it seemed like a matter of how many.
This continued into the 2nd period, as Joe Corvo took the puck out of his own corner and moved it up the ice to the little ball of hates re-incarnation. Instead of the great Pat Verbeek, this was Chad LaRose.
Larose would take it into the offensive zone and take a shot as Bayda was crashing the net. Bayda gets pushed into Brodeur, and the rebound comes back to Larose who makes no mistake. 3-0 Carolina midway through the game.
Carolina continued to push their foot down on the game. Brodeur still making save after save, having to come up with answers for the Carolina Hurricanes shots. Being forced to do everything in his power to keep the Devils from being completely blown away in game 4.
But towards the end of the 2nd period, New Jersey established a foothold in the game. Brian Gionta got a stretch pass that left him alone with Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and Gionta would win that battle. New Jersey had broken the shutout and were on the board after 40 minutes of hockey, it was 3-1 Hurricanes.
This didn’t shake the canes, at the start of the 3rd, Brodeur was still under siege, and it was still Carolina’s game to lose. Brodeur was being forced to make outstanding save after outstanding save, the man could have had a career highlight reel from this game alone.
Eventually, New Jersey would cut into the lead again, through their powerplay. Martin Havlat would find a cycling Gionta. Gionta would take the shot on Ward and the rebound would pop out to Brendan Shanahan and the hall of fame player made no mistake. New Jersey had got themselves back into the game and had a large helping hand from their goaltender.
And then it was tied. Paul Martin keeps it in at the point. His shot was tipped in front by David Clarkson and somehow Cam Ward stopped the tip. However, the rebound would pop outright to a wide-open Clarkson who had 24 square feet of net to aim at and he made no mistake. 3-3 and Carolina had given up a 3 goal lead at home.
Jussi Jokinen would get stuffed on a wrap-around attempt, and the puck would find its way back to Pitkanen at the point. Pitkanen taps it over to Seidenberg who just lashes it, and out in front there’s a Jussi Jokinen parked, and it hits the skate and goes in. Carolina had scored, but would it count? There were 0’s on the clock, had the puck gone in with time left?
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New Jersey stayed on the bench refusing to believe that it would count, and Carolina Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice can even be seen shrugging, he has no idea if it’s gonna count. Finally, the headsets go down, the refs have a result, and they point to the center circle, the goal counts, Carolina had scored in the nick of time.
When I say this goal could not have come any later, I mean it couldn’t. When the puck crossed the line, there were 0.2 seconds left in the game. That is not a typo, two-tenths of a second remaining in the game, and Jussi Jokinen had stolen it away from the New Jersey Devils.
Carolina would go back to New Jersey with the series tied at 2, and with a chance to bring it back to Raleigh and win the series on home ice. We all know how it panned out, but this would have been fun to see too.