By Michael Russo
Disregarding which teams you were pulling for — and boy, it’s got to be painful to be a Devils’ fan today — those were two outstanding Game 7′s.
As Dave Strader said during the VERSUS telecast, there was Sergei Fedorov — circa 1994.
And for awhile in the Devils’ game, there was Brian Rolston — circa 2005-08. What a shrewd pass by Brian Gionta off the boards to essentially set up a signature Brian Rolston one-time slapper.
It seemed like that would hold up as the winner, but in an amazing turn of events, the Carolina Hurricanes went from being 1:20 away from their season ending to ending the season of the Devils with 32 seconds left.
What an unbelievable finish, even more unbelievable than their victory with two-tenths of a second left earlier in the series. So many great plays down the stretch, like Tim Gleason saving the puck at the blue line on his knees seconds before Joni Pitkanen set up Jussi Jokinen’s tying goal. And there’s few scarier sights than Eric Staal coming down the off wing with speed like Mark Messier.
It was just a stunning finish, one that’ll have the Devils second-guessing little plays for a long time. Zach Parise had an awesome series, but you know he’ll be wondering if he should have just chipped the puck out on his forehand rather than turning toward the corner 10 or so seconds before Jokinen’s goal.
Shawn Roarke from NHL.com wrote a really good sidebar with myriad Devils’ quotes. Here’s the link.
So with that win, the NHL got what you know was its wish — a Crosby-Ovechkin second round. And Boston-Carolina should be an awesome series, too. I’m almost more enthralled with the East matchups than the West (Vancouver-Chicago, which should be fun, and Detroit-Anaheim).
The semis should be great drama.