NHL: Jokinen propels Hurricanes
By Joedy McCreary
RALEIGH ó Jussi Jokinen couldn’t sneak a late backhand past Martin Brodeur, so he parked himself in front of the net to distract the New Jersey Devils goaltender.
With the click of a skate, he saved the Carolina Hurricanes from the brink of playoff elimination.
Jokinen deflected in Dennis Seidenberg’s slap shot off his skate with 0.2 seconds remaining and the Hurricanes evened their series with New Jersey at two games apiece by beating the Devils 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Eric Staal, Ryan Bayda and Chad LaRose also scored and Seidenberg finished with two assists for the Hurricanes, who blew a 3-0 lead but regrouped just in time to avoid a third straight overtime game.
Jokinen started the dramatic sequence when he tried to stuff a backhander past Brodeur with about seven seconds remaining. The puck circled around to Joni Pitkanen near the blue line and he passed off to Seidenberg, who unloaded a hard blast from the point.
“I knew it was close, so I just tried to get the puck to the net,” Seidenberg said.
It got there ó right after it clicked off the Finn’s left skate and past Brodeur’s low left side as time expired.
“I felt right away (the puck hit) my skate, and then I saw it just in the net. I didn’t hear the buzzer, so I was pretty sure, I was comfortable it was a goal,” Jokinen said. “I tried to look at everybody ó our coaches, our players ó asking if it was a good goal or no. Everybody says, ‘I don’t know,’ so I was really nervous.”
After a review of about 2 minutes, officials determined that the puck crossed the goal line with 0.2 seconds left. An incensed Brodeur, who had been bumped outside the crease by Jokinen seconds before the goal, smashed his stick into the boards.
“‘I had time to reset myself.’ That’s always the same answer. It doesn’t matter which referee,” Brodeur said. “It’s the easy way out for them to say that. It’s hard. You want to play your game. You want to do what’s right and be in the best position you can.
“With these guys (Carolina), they go to the net. They play hard,” he added. “I am not complaining about how Carolina is playing. They don’t take liberty. They’re pretty fair about it. They got to the net. The referee has to do their job. Today was pretty awful.”
David Clarkson scored the tying goal with 11:14 left for New Jersey. Brian Gionta added a goal and an assist, Brendan Shanahan scored his 60th career playoff goal and Brodeur stopped 42 shots for the Devils.
But when this tightly played series resumes with Game 5 on Thursday night in New Jersey, the momentum boost will belong to the Hurricanes after a game they controlled for nearly two full periods nearly slipped away before Jokinen’s buzzer-beater.
“We want to be careful with that, because it seems the team who’s taken one on the chin has responded very well,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re going to have to come back with the same sense of determination that I thought we felt coming into this game.”
Meanwhile, this one had to deflate the Devils ó even if Brodeur denied it ó after they rallied from three goals down and came within a split seconds of forcing OT.
“It’s a disappointing loss, but we didn’t lose anything today,” Brodeur said. “We’ve still got home-ice advantage. We lost a game. That’s it.”
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