Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's The Playoffs, Stupid - Could We Try It Without Digitalis Next Time?

Every time The Hurricanes and Devils get together in the playoffs, there's at least one game where we can count on getting a cardio workout right there in front of the TV or in the stands. Last time around, Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal, the two teams had played to a 1-1 deadlock for 59 minutes and 39 seconds. Then all of a sudden Zach Parise broke the tie with 21 seconds to play, the Devils went up 2-1 in the game and the fans started filing for the door. Not so fast fellas. After a timeout, goalie Cam Ward took a seat in favor of a sixth attacker and with just under three seconds to play Eric Staal roofed a shot that tied the score at 2 and sent the game to overtime. And those that had left -- upon hearing the goal horn -- started a stampede back into the building. Not surprisingly, the arena staffers minding the doors didn't even bother trying to stop them. Much safer that way. Anyway, on that night Nick "The Secret Weapon" Wallin deked around Martin Brodeur and dribbled a shot behind him to win it in OT. It was Wallin's third career playoff goal -- all three of which have come in sudden death.

So what do you do for an encore after a finish like that? You play Game 4 of the 2009 East Quarterfinal. Carolina looked for all the world like a team on a search and destroy mission in the first two periods. they finished checks, they tracked down loose pucks, they crashed the net, they made smart decisions with the puck and in general they dominated both ends of the rink for 40 minutes.

Then with 28 seconds left in the second period, they gave Brian Gionta a tiny opening and he cashed in beating Ward cleanly on a partial breakaway. You could almost hear the nerves set in.

And in the third period, you could see them too. Or possibly it was just the breath of life that Jersey got from the late goal in the second. Whatever it was, the Devils tied it with about 11 minutes left to play in regulation. And suddenly the Hurricanes didn't look quite as dominant.

It wasn't like they played badly though. But they couldn't break Brodeur again and the clock was winding down looking for all the world like this would be the third consecutive overtime game of the series.

With the final two seconds ticking off the clock, Dennis Seidenberg let a shot rip from the point. It glanced off Jussi Jokkinen's left skate and came to rest in the New Jersey goal. The red light went on. the goal horn sounded. the fans blew the roof off the RBC Center. Again.

But did it count?

Hockey is a bit different from most sports in this way. A football game isn't considered over until the last play of the game is completed. Basketball players only need to release the buzzer beater before the final second ticks away. But in hockey, the entire puck must be across the goal line before time expires. In other words, you have to have scored the goal, not simply be in the act of scoring it when the final horn sounds to end a period or game in order for the goal to count.

And nobody knew initially if there was any time left on the clock when the puck crossed the line or not. So for a few brief, gut-wrenching moments, it wasn't certain if the Canes had won 4-3 in regulation or if the game would go to sudden death OT.

The video review conclusively showed the puck crossing the line completely with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. It was an official NHL record -- the latest anyone has ever scored a goal in any game. And it's a record that will probably stand for a very long time.

At least until the Hurricanes and Devils meet in the playoffs again.

Violence UnSilenced
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Robin said...

Sounds like a helluva game, one to remember for sure.

me said...

Way to stay in the Game!!!!