By KEITH PARSONS, AP Sports
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - It was the kind of play that saves not
only a game, but perhaps a season.
Cam Ward (30) and Glen Wesley (2)
of the Carolina Hurricanes reach back to save a goal as Mike
Grier #25 of the Buffalo Sabres looks on in game two of the
Eastern Conference Finals during the 2006 NHL Playoffs May
22, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The
Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 4-3 to tie the series at one.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Glen Wesley, an 18-year veteran and the longest tenured
active NHL player not to win the Stanley Cup, dived over his
goalie to stop a sure goal.
"It was just a reaction thing, and fortunately, it stayed
out," said Wesley, who played in his 157th career playoff
And fortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes, he was there to
protect the lead in the third period.
Ray Whitney had both of his goals in a dominating second 20
minutes and the Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3
Monday night to even the Eastern Conference finals.
Frank Kaberle and Justin Williams also scored for Carolina
in Game 2, and rookie Cam Ward needed only 16 saves to pick
up his ninth victory of the playoffs. The Hurricanes had a
16-4 advantage in shots during the second period, a game
after the Sabres led that statistic 13-4.
"We made a note of it after the first period to make sure we
didn't have a letdown and continued to skate hard," Whitney
said. "With our team, when we skate hard, it's a better mix
for us, when we're not standing around and watching other
teams do their thing."
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Buffalo.
"We were skating and it was just fun to watch," Ward said.
"You see the guys playing that hard in front of you, you
want to do the same for them."
Whitney redirected a shot from Eric Staal on the power play
for his first goal to give Carolina a 2-1 lead, then added
another with the teams skating 4-on-4. Matt Cullen dug the
puck out of the corner and passed to Whitney between the
circles, and his one-timer slipped through goalie Ryan
Miller to make it 3-1.
From Whitney's perspective, considering how open he was, he
had to wait an eternity for Cullen's assist.
"I was thinking, 'Pick your head up and slide it,"' Whitney
said with a laugh. "It just kind of opened up. Once Matt was
done stick-handling, he slid it over. It was a good play."
Doug Weight (39), left, and Matt
Cullen (8), right, congratulate Ray Whitney (13) of the
Carolina Hurricanes after his second goal against the
Buffalo Sabres in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals
during the 2006 NHL Playoffs on May 22, 2006 at the RBC
Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Buffalo nearly got within one goal early in the third period
when defenseman Jay McKee sent a slap shot toward the net.
It bounced off Ward's pads and was trickling toward the net
when Wesley leaped over the goalie to swipe it out of harm's
The play was reviewed in the replay booth, and referee Dan
O'Halloran quickly skated away from the phone to signal no
"I saw Cam stop it and it literally trickled through him,"
Wesley said. "Fortunately, I was on the side and not in
front of him, and I was just able to get my stick on it, I
guess in the nick of time."
Staal had a great view of the play, standing behind Wesley
in front of the crease.
"That puck was going pretty quick, it was a great play,"
Staal said. "You need those plays throughout the playoffs."
A short time later, Williams skated in and sent a deflected
wrist shot toward the net, where Miller simply whiffed on it
with his glove to give Williams his sixth goal of the
postseason. The capacity crowd at the RBC Center serenaded
Buffalo's rookie goalie with a chant of "Miller! Miller!" as
the Hurricanes celebrated.
"The puck just hit the edge of my glove, hit my face, my
shoulder, went in," Miller said. "I would have liked to have
played it differently, obviously."
That proved to be an important goal when Buffalo captain
Chris Drury backhanded a rebound over Ward's right shoulder
during a two-man advantage midway through the final period.
It was 4-2 at that point, but the Hurricanes held on to take
the best-of-seven series back to Buffalo despite Derek Roy's
power-play goal in the final second.
"I wouldn't consider that a narrow defeat, by any means,"
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Their lines were better than
our lines, that's just the bottom line. The first 40 minutes
was probably the worst hockey we've played in the playoffs."
Carolina's power play, the best in the NHL during the
playoffs despite being shut out in the opener, got off to a
great start with goals on the first two opportunities. With
right wing Ales Kotalik off for interference, the Hurricanes
patiently passed the puck around before it got to Kaberle.
He used a screen from Rod Brind'Amour to beat Miller from
right outside the left circle.
"It was important, obviously, it's tough to play catch up
against a team like that, the way that Miller's been
playing," Cullen said. "You certainly don't want to go down
one, like we did the last game."
Buffalo tied it late in the first period when Thomas Vanek
got credit for a goal that appeared to bounce in off
Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore. That also came on the
Then came the second 20 minutes and the Hurricanes'
domination. It started early when Doug Weight deftly dragged
the puck through the legs of Sabres defenseman Rory
Fitzpatrick, but Miller was up to the task when Weight went
to the backhand.
The Hurricanes took the lead for good with Jochen Hecht in
the penalty box for tripping, with Whitney getting his first
"We have to want it more if we want to move past these
guys," Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere said. "They're a good
hockey team, but we want to play harder."