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This Day in Canes History: May 14

Walker's Game 7 OT heroics in Boston

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

On this day in Canes history ...

May 14, 2009

Scott Walker beats Tim Thomas 18:46 into overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Boston, leading the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win. The Canes become just the fourth team to advance to the Eastern Conference Final three times in the first decade of the 2000s, joining New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in that group.

The 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils packed a playoffs worth of drama into a thrilling seven games.

There was Jussi Jokinen's last-second, game-winning goal in Game 4.

There was the "Shock at the Rock" in Game 7.

The sixth-seeded Canes then drew a match-up against the Eastern Conference's top-ranked team, a Bruins squad that was just a point shy of the best record in the NHL.

After dropping Game 1 in Boston, the Canes rallied to win three straight games. Cam Ward pitched a 36-save shutout in a 3-0 final in Game 2. Jussi Jokinen spun off a defender in the slot to smack in a rebound 2:48 into overtime in Game 3, lifting the Canes to a 3-2 win in Raleigh. A pair of power-play goals then propelled the Canes to a 4-1 win in Game 4.

Pushed to the brink of elimination, the Bruins responded with wins in Games 5 and 6 to force a decisive Game 7 back in Boston.

Byron Bitz and Rod Brind'Amour traded goals in the first period. Sergei Samsonov tapped in a gorgeous centering pass from Joni Pitkanen to put the Canes ahead, 2-1, in the second. Six minutes into the third period, Milan Lucic found a soft spot in the Canes' defense at the top of the crease and tapped in the puck to tie the game.

Overtime. Game 7.

With 80 seconds left in the extra frame, Dennis Seidenberg moved the puck up through the neutral zone. Ray Whitney gained the zone with possession and, from the top of the right circle, put a slap shot on net. Tim Thomas made the save but couldn't control the rebound, and Scott Walker pounced on it.

John Forslund: "Ray Whitney tees it up. Thomas, the save. The rebound, THEY SCOOOORE! THEY SCORE! And guess who? Scotty Walker is the hero! Carolina is on their way to the Eastern Conference Final!"

Video: Moment 12: Scott Walker's Game 7 OT Winner

After scoring his first and only Stanley Cup Playoffs goal, Walker leaped into the boards and skated down the ice, a burst of unbridled joy and raw emotion. Two days later, it was revealed that Walker's wife, Julie, had been diagnosed with cervical cancer during the series.

"I can honestly tell you, when we played those games, I was a better player because I was barely thinking about hockey. My mind was so not there, but yet I was there," Walker said more than three years later. "So that just means your instincts and natural abilities are taking over. Sometimes, as players, we play with high emotions in high-pressure situations and we don't play well under the circumstances. But I really didn't feel like there was pressure on me. I had such a greater thing going on in my life. I just went out there and played.

"Going through that, it made not just me, my wife and my family stronger, but also our relationship with the fans and the close people that we came to know and love in Carolina and still stay in contact with today. So overall, that was one of the greatest moments of my life and one of the worst, as well."

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