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BIG MOMENTS - May 23, 2009: PIT @ CAR @NHL
The plays that turn the tide in every game of playoff action -- that is what the beauty of hockey history is built on.

Check back every night following all the 2009 playoff action to witness's game-changing moment from each game, as well as the rest of each game's goals, saves and hits.

You can vote on the day's best Big Moment.  Cast your votes after the action.

Thanks to all who voted -- and enjoy the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs!

Pittsburgh at Carolina - Game 3

A) Cullen cashes in - Trailing 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hurricanes desperately needed a win in their first home game of the series.

Early on in the first period, the Canes were controlling the play in the Pittsburgh zone. Scott Walker cycled the puck down low for Patrick Eaves, who then drove to the net from a tough angle and fired a shot off the side of the mesh. Eaves picked up his own miss, skated around the net and threw the puck in front. It went right to Matt Cullen, who found himself in the right spot at the right time to bury a quick shot past Marc-Andre Fleury at 4:06 of the opening period.

Cullen's third goal of the playoffs gave the Canes a critical 1-0 lead at home early on in Game 3.

B) Malkin capitalizes - Just minutes after surrendering the first goal of the game, Evgeni Malkin came through yet again for the Penguins.

After Carolina seized the momentum early in front of its home crowd, Pittsburgh got an opportunity to strike when Patrick Eaves was whistled for slashing. Evgeni Malkin made good on the opportunity, as he blocked an attempted clear between the circles from Tim Gleason, recovered the puck and put it past Cam Ward for a game-tying power-play goal.

Malkin's tally, his fifth of the series and 11th of the postseason, quieted the RBC Center and shifted the momentum back to the series-leading Pens.

C) Pens strike twice - With the game tied 1-1 and less than a minute remaining in the first period, the Pens scored twice in 31 seconds to take a 3-1 lead into the locker room.

The Hurricanes turned the puck over in the Pittsburgh zone to Chris Kunitz, who sent a cross-ice pass ahead to Bill Guerin on the left side. Guerin, carefully handling the puck from behind his legs, skated up the left wing and sailed a beautiful backhanded pass across the front of the net to Sidney Crosby. Pittsburgh's captain perfectly tipped the pass over Cam Ward's glove for a 2-1 lead.

With the Hurricanes still reeling, Evgeni Malkin struck for the second time in the period.

After Craig Adams battled for the puck along the boards in Carolina territory, Malkin came flying in and grabbed the puck after it deflected off a linesman. With a full head of steam, Malkin drove unimpeded to the front of the net and lifted the puck over Ward's shoulder. The Hart Trophy finalist's second goal of the night came with 11.9 seconds left in the period and stunned the 'Canes and their fans.
D) A score and a save - With Carolina needing a spark early in the third period, the 'Canes won an offensive zone faceoff and set up Erik Cole at the half boards. Cole's shot from inside the left circle was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but the long rebound came out to Sergei Samsonov, who batted it out of midair and into the open net to pull Carolina within one with more than 18 minutes still to play.

Samsonov's goal gave Carolina renewed energy with ample time to tie the game and avoid a 3-0 series deficit.

Cam Ward preserved Carolina's momentum less than two minutes later when Pittsburgh caught the 'Canes napping in the neutral zone. Max Talbot took Mark Eaton's long pass from behind the Pens' goal line straight down the middle of the ice on a clean breakaway, but Talbot's quick shot was denied by the ever-clutch Ward, keeping Carolina in the game. 

(Bonus Big Moments: Ward wows with saves).

E) Fedotenko ices it  - For the second consecutive game, the Blackhawks and Red Wings found themselves in overtime. This time, however, the ending was different.

Controlling the play in Detroit's territory, Matt Walker skated the puck in from the right point. He released a heavy slap shot that found its way on goal through the screen of Dustin Byfuglien. Chris Osgood stopped the initial shot, but Samuel Pahlsson found the rebound and made an unbelievable pass to Patrick Sharp. Sharp, left all alone on the left side of the ice, one-timed the puck past Chris Osgood and into the empty net.

The United Center erupted as Sharp's second goal of the night gave the Hawks a 4-3 victory just 1:52 into overtime and pulled them within 2-1 in the series.

FINAL SCORE: Penguins 6, Hurricanes 2

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