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Carolina Advances After Game 7 Thriller Against Boston

JEFF Z. KLEIN The New York Times 14.05.2009 20:05
Boston’s Tim Thomas, left, and Michael Ryder after Sergei Samsonov’s second-period goal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead.

Boston’s Tim Thomas, left, and Michael Ryder after Sergei Samsonov’s second-period goal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead.


This was the Game 7 hockey fans didn’t see between the Capitals and the Penguins: a heart-pounding, end-to-end battle of narrow escapes and pulsating tension.



When it was over, the Carolina Hurricanes had upset the top-seeded Boston Bruins, 3-2, after almost a full period of overtime. Scott Walker scored the winning goal, breaking in on Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and bunting in the rebound of a Ray Whitney shot at 18 minutes 46 seconds of the extra session.

Boston fans woke up Thursday morning pinching themselves over how lucky they were to have the Bruins in a Game 7 after trailing the series three games to one, the injury-riddled Celtics in a Game 6 and the Red Sox doing well. By the end of Thursday night their joy became a nightmare as all three teams lost.

But only the Bruins were eliminated. The TD BankNorth Garden crowd, which had been roaring and chanting “We want it!” throughout overtime, fell suddenly silent as Walker, fined $2,500 for a sucker punch to the Bruins’ Aaron Ward in Game 5, threw away his stick and gloves and darted wildly to center ice in celebration.

It was the first playoff goal of his 14-year N.H.L. career.

Afterward Walker said he apologized to Ward in the handshake line for the punch, for which he was not suspended. “He’s a great player, a Stanley Cup champion,” Walker said of Ward, who was with the Hurricanes when they won the Cup in 2006. “He’s got a lot of respect in this room. It happened, and it’s not something I’m going to carry around like a feather in my cap.”

It was a galling end for the Bruins and their fans, but another fantastic finish for the Hurricanes. The last time they played a Game 7, they stunned the Devils by firing two shots past Martin Brodeur in the last 80 seconds. This game had almost as stunning an ending, and now the cardiac Hurricanes, a middling team through most of the regular season, have reached the Eastern Conference finals, where they will play Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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