The Carolina Hurricanes are a relatively young franchise. Relocated from Hartford in 1997, the Canes have been in Raleigh for less than 20 years. While their playoff appearances have been scarce lately, there have already been some great moments in playoff history for this club. Here are the top 10 moments in Hurricanes playoff history.
10: Are you Wallin to Win?
In game two of the 2006 Eastern Conference semi-finals, Hurricanes’ defenseman Niclas Wallin earned his moniker, the Secret Weapon, after an overtime goal against Martin Brodeur put the Canes up 2-0 in the series. Eric Staal tallied a goal with three seconds remaining to tie the game at two, which set up one of the most memorable moments in Hurricanes playoff history.
Some fans lamented that the puck was kicked in by the hulking defenseman, but one thing’s for sure: nobody thought that it would be Nic Wallin on a breakaway in overtime to win a Stanley Cup playoff game. The goal gave the Canes a 2-0 series lead and they went on to win the series 4-1.
9: Canes You Believe It?
In the 2009 Eastern Conference quarter finals, the Canes and the Devils had themselves another playoff series. Much more tightly contested than the previous series in 06’, two of the first three games were settled in overtime. Jersey had a 2-1 series lead heading into game 4, but the Canes jumped on them early and had a 3-0 advantage. The Devils stormed back and tied the game, and it looked as though the third consecutive game of the series would need to be settled in overtime until Jussi Jokinen played hero.
Jokinen deflected a Dennis Seidenburg slapshot past Brodeur with .2 seconds remaining to win the game and knot the series at two apiece.
8: Comeback Canes
If Jokinen’s goal was a dramatic moment in the series, it was nothing compared to the finale that the Canes and Devils had in store for game 7 of the same series. The sun was setting on the Hurricanes’ hopes of advancing to the semi-finals, as the Devils had a 3-2 lead with 1:20 remaining in the game.
Jussi Jokinen took a slap pass from fellow Finn Joni Pitkanen and one timed it past (guess who?) Marty Broduer to tie the game at three. Then, with only 32 seconds remaining, Eric Staal flew down the right side and snapped a wrist shot past Brodeur to stun the Devils. The cleverly named “Shock at the Rock” goes down as one of the most memorable comebacks in Hurricanes playoff history.
7: Talking the Talk, Walking the Walker
In the very next series after the Canes stunned the Devils in 2009, the Canes played an incredible series with the intimidating Boston Bruins. In another tightly contested series, the Canes and Bruins were all square after six games, and for the second consecutive series for the Canes, the series would be decided in a final game 7. The hero that emerged from Carolina was one of the most unlikely.
Just days after Scott Walker was involved in controversy when he punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward during an altercation, he scored his first career playoff goal, and was it ever a big one. His rebound goal (and priceless celebration) was an iconic moment and defined the player that Walker was his entire career.
6: Cam Ward Heroics
The Hurricanes faced the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canes, who finished second in the Eastern Conference, struggled in the last few games leading up to the playoffs. When they took to the ice at the RBC Center in Raleigh, hopes were high. However, the Canadiens came in and won games 1 and 2 on the road to take a decisive 2-0 series lead heading back to Montreal.
The Canes’ coaching staff had a decision to make, and head coach Peter Laviolette was faced with either benching the goalie that got them there in favor of the rookie, or leaning on the experience and try to bounce back in the series. Laviolette decided to put goaltender Cam Ward (14 wins) between the pipes over Martin Gerber (38 wins) and the decision paid off in a huge way. The Canes won four straight to take the series 4-2, and Ward never looked back. He would finish the playoffs holding the Conn Smythe trophy.
5: Cup Clinching Save
The Hurricanes decided to ride goaltender Cam Ward throughout the 2006 playoffs after he won game three of the first round against Montreal. Good thing they did, because that decision led to one of the biggest saves in team history.
The save came with two minutes and change remaining in the game. The Canes held a 2-1 lead over the Oilers in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Fernando Pisani had an empty net before Ward stretched into a full split and stuffed the attempt with his left pad. Had Ward not made the save, the game would have been tied and history could be much different for the hurricanes.
4: The Turning Point
The Hurricanes played the Canadiens in the 2002 Eastern Conference semis. The Canes won games 5 and 6 easily to advance to the Conference Finals, but it was game four that was the turning point for the entire series.
Montreal was leading 3-0 at the end of two periods, and held the same advantage five minutes into the third. The Hurricanes came alive in what is known as the Miracle in Molson.
Three third period goals and an overtime winner later, the Hurricanes advanced to the next round and eventually to the Stanley Cup finals.
3: Journey to the Cup
The Buffalo Sabres were considered the best team by many in the 2006 playoffs. A matchup with the Sabres in the Conference Finals was almost inevitable for the Hurricanes, and they were up to the challenge.
Captain Rod Brind’Amour scored just under nine minutes remaining in the third period to break a 2-2 draw, and Justin Williams added an insurance marker with just south of one minute to play in the game to give the Hurricanes the 4-3 series win. The Canes advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in a very heated matchup with one of the best teams in the NHL.
2: First Stanley Cup Appearance
To say that the 2002 Detroit Red Wings were good would be a vast understatement. Sporting 10 future Hall of Famers, they had 116 points on the year and were the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Carolina Hurricanes won the hearts of the community by reaching their first ever Stanley Cup Final, but were huge underdogs going into the series against the Wings.
The Hurricanes didn’t care about pedigree, they didn’t care about expectations, they went out and won game 1 in overtime IN Detroit. The win, while it was the only one of the series for the Hurricanes, proved to the world that hockey was here to stay in North Carolina and that the team would be competing in the near future for the ultimate prize.
1: Winning The Cup!
The Holy Grail of hockey was in the building on June 19, 2006. The Hurricanes and the Oilers had played a grueling series that was tied at three games apiece. One game to claim the best trophy in all of professional sports. The Carolina Hurricanes took on the 8th seeded Edmonton Oilers, and the clock finally struck midnight for the Cinderella team of the Western Conference.
The Hurricanes defeated the Oilers 3-1 and won the first Stanley Cup in team history. The stadium was dubbed the loudest house in the NHL, and the fans were made famous for standing the entire game as their team battled and prevailed in the season’s final game.
From Cam Ward’s gigantic save in the third, to Justin Williams’ empty net goal to seal the deal, the Canes gave their fans reason to cheer the entire game. It also gave us the best picture that captures the joy of winning a Cup perfectly: