Kinda funny, I guess, that Scott Walker was the guy to eliminate Boston.
I mean, you knew it wasn’t going to be Sergei Samsonov, who had gotten to the bottom of his “lucky goal” supply earlier in the game. You knew it wasn’t going to be Rod Brind’Amour, who was taken to the dressing room earlier in the overtime and never came back. You knew it wasn’t going to be Erik Cole, who hasn’t scored in about a trillion straight playoff games. You knew it wouldn’t be Eric Staal, who once again had as little effect on tonight’s proceedings as his little brother Marc.
And you knew it wasn’t going to be anyone on the Bruins, who despite scoring both their goals because they had big bodies like Byron Bitz and Milan Lucic going at the front of the crease, never really went to the front of the crease with any great regularity in the overtime period of what was a supremely entertaining game, even if it was a little sloppy because of the circumstances.
It was certainly the most evenly-played game of the series. Wild swings of momentum back and forth led many people to whom I talked to say something along the lines of “Well the Bruins/Hurricanes HAVE to score soon.” They didn’t. Almost all of the goals, save for the Byron Bitz tally that opened the scoring, came on the counterattack. And none was more counterattack-y than Walker’s, which came on a Ray Whitney shot off the transition designed to do exactly what it did: get a fat rebound into the slot that someone could take a whack at. Now, I don’t know why Thomas came out so far to challenge and tried to punch it away instead of backing off a little and smothering it, but I also don’t know why he was so eager to play the puck at every opportunity once overtime hit.
Sure, the Bruins kind of poured it all out in overtime. They had no interest in playing conservative hockey, as it really was not their wont all year. Why start now? But Thomas was uncharacteristically aggressive, I thought, even by his typically challenge-minded standard.
So the puck fell to the guy the Bruins probably least wanted to score an OT series-winner (with all the other Hurricanes in a dead heat for second-to-last). And he scored the knockout blow.
At least he kept his gloves on this time.
Detroit 4, Anaheim 3
Speaking of unlikely heroes: Danny Cleary? ..Okay…? This game was pretty weird anyway. I mean, Pavel Datsyuk had a point. Unbelievable stuff. You might as well have told me Chris Pronger didn’t elbow anyone (don’t worry, he did), or Corey Perry didn’t dive all over the place (he, too, did). It was almost that level of wackiness.