It was a combination of power plays and power failures in Raleigh Sunday night, the New Jersey Devils who were facing a do or die situation, took the latter route finding themselves eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs four games to one, as the Carolina Hurricanes turned up the offence to the tune of a 4-1 victory.
In an ominous prediction of their fate, the power at the RBC centre went out at the eighteen minute mark of the third period, it was a like a two minute warning for the Devils who saw their season come to an end some 120 seconds later.
The power failure was a symbolic metaphor for their power play endeavors in this series, the Devils were provided with 22 man advantage situations over the five games, and could only muster two goals when all was said and done. As if to put an exclamation point on their ineptitude on the power play, the Devils could not convert five consecutive man advantage situations in the first period of what would eventually be their final game of the year.
The Hurricanes made better opportunity of their chances, as they converted 9 of their 24 opportunities during the series, 9 goals that went a long way to securing their place in the final four and the Eastern Division showdown against the Buffalo Sabres.
Cam Ward returned to the style he had become accustomed to prior to Saturday afternoons disappointment, as he resumed his amazing playoff run by stonewalling the Devil attack through the game. Though he didn’t see as much traffic as one would have thought in a desperation situation, the Hurricanes played their system to perfection, turning back the Devil attack in the neutral zone time and time again. Working their fore check to it’s top level, they frustrated the Devils in their own end for a good portion of the game and the series.
Ward met his idol Martin Brodeur at centre ice for the customary post game handshakes, Brodeur offering the youngster his best wishes to go all the way. It must have been an exciting moment for a kid who probably never thought he’d be in the heat of an NHL playoff battle this early in his career. Like everything else in this series, he handled the meeting with a sense of calm and respect. Those are just some of the traits that are carrying he and his team well so far in this playoff year.
Since the early scare against the Montreal Canadiens in round one, the Hurricanes have been able to get back on their game. As they progress through the playoffs, they are looking more and more like the team that battled for first place in the east throughout the year.
As the seconds ticked down and the lighting powered up the Hurricanes and their fans celebrated the move on to the next level, a match up with the equally fast and hard hitting Buffalo Sabres. The two teams have quite a few similarities in style and make up, which should make for an exciting Eastern final.