In 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes met the Boston Bruins in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Game 7 was a game to remember.
It was the surprise of the league, the 6th seeded Carolina Hurricanes, and one of the most storied franchises in the NHL, the Boston Bruins. Carolina had run through a wall in the New Jersey Devils to get to this point. It was game 7 in Boston, at TD Garden.
A storied building for a storied team. It’s no secret the Boston Bruins are one of the original 6 NHL teams and have a very decorated past. Carolina was in the Garden in the 2nd round of the playoffs, and a win in game 7 would mark the halfway point of their goal, the Stanley Cup.
It would not start well for Carolina. Byron Bitz would get a shot past Cam Ward after Ward would get the first stop. Carolina was down early in game 7, and it would be an uphill battle to progress against the best team in the NHL throughout the regular season. Carolina would have to defeat the odds again, this time it was a much more difficult opponent.
But it was more of the same in the first period. Ward was the more active of the two goaltenders, as shots rained down on number 30 for the Hurricanes. Cam made save after save and kept the Canes from getting blown out early. Albeit, he also did make save after save after mistakes he made giving the puck back to the Bruins.
It would quickly pay dividends, as Carolina tied the game up at one. Dennis Seidenberg and Joni Pitkanen would play catch at the point. Seidenberg would pull the trigger from the point, and the puck would find it’s way in after a tip from Rod Brind’amour. Carolina’s Captain had them on the board, and back in the game. A Powerplay goal made it 1-1. Lots of time left in the 1st period.
Towards the end of the 1st period, it was more of the same. Shot after shot on Cam Ward registered save after save as Ward kept kicking shot after shot into the corners. Ward had been under siege the entire period, and under siege the entire time, and he had kept the Bruins at bay. It was time for the 2nd period, and the Canes owed their goalie a better performance.
And a better performance they gave. As soon as the puck dropped to start the 2nd period, Carolina had pushed the game back to the Boston Bruins end of the ice and started to muster scoring chances of their own that had forced Tim Thomas into the game. Carolina had flipped the script.
Until the script flipped back, and Ward was put under siege by the Bruins once more. Bitz, who had scored the goal, was barrelling in again. Ward again said no, and kept the Carolina Hurricanes in the game again. Boston then got a powerplay and Ward was forced to keep the door shut. Ward was the only reason Carolina could touch this game with a 10-foot pole.
Sergei Samsonov would prove Wards efforts to not be in vain. Frantisek Kaberle would carry the through center, and lay it off to Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen would go through center with the puck, and into the offensive zone, and he would play a beautiful pass to Samsonov would turn home the puck. Carolina had stolen the lead of the game and had a lead to hold on to.
Brind’amour and the Canes had kept their foot on the gas, and they had held the Bruins to the flames, and Boston was starting to feel the heat. Boston knew a goal was needed to keep their hope of a Stanley cup alive, and Carolina knew that if they could just shut the door, they would play for the Eastern Conference title. It was time for the 3rd period.
Carolina would find themselves on a powerplay early, they had a chance for the knockout punch on the Bruins. After a point shot from Pitkanen was deflected through on goal, it smacks the post square and wiggles along the goal line. It would not cross the line, and lady luck had fallen kindly for the Boston Bruins.
Boston would capitalize on their luck too. Milan Lucic would turn home the Bruins equalizing goal from right in the slow after a beautiful passing play got them behind the canes defenders, and caught Ward sleeping. It was 2-2, and it was likely to be the next goal wins it.
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Everything was on the line, and it showed, there was wave after wave of attack going both ways. Ward would make a fabulous stop, only for Tim Thomas to match it at the other end. There were brilliant chances for both teams stopped, turnovers galore, and the game started to get feisty. It was starting to feel like a do or die moment. It was going to be an amazing finish.
All that could have made it better would have been overtime. And guess what we got? 60 minutes was not enough to split the teams, it would require extra time. Carolina and Boston had gone the distance in games, and it was going to require more than the usual 60 minutes to split these two teams. As we commence Overtime in game 7, the next goal wins.
Chances were traded like player cards, hit flying. Shot followed by save again and again. Cam Ward and Tim Thomas were staring. Save after save as the goalies stole the show. Ward putting on his best superman impression while Thomas tried his best to become the great wall of Beantown. Until eventually, one passed a goaltender.
Seidenberg moved the puck up the near boards for Carolina’s little wizard. Ray Whitney moved into the zone with the puck on his stick and fired a shot that Thomas bobbled. Where Thomas bobbled, Carolina made no mistake and it was Scott Walker who had become the hero for Carolina. Carolina had done it, the Eastern Conference finals. But we don’t talk about that.