BOSTON - Scott Walker scored his first NHL playoff goal 18:46 into overtime to send the Carolina Hurricanes into the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Byron Bitz gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period, and Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour tied it six minutes later. Sergei Samsonov put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1 at 7:45 of the second period, but Milan Lucic tied it for the Bruins at 6:19 of the third.
Next up for Carolina will by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East finals.
Walker scored his first goal in 25 career NHL playoff games on a rebound of a shot by Ray Whitney from the right circle. Tim Thomas made the save but couldn't recover in time to stop Walker from batting the puck out of the air and over him.
Walker had been fined US$25,000 after punching defenceman Aaron Ward in the face with his right fist late in Boston's win in Game 5. The Bruins said Walker should have been suspended for punching Ward, who hadn't taken off his gloves to fight.
Carolina finished the regular season on a roll and captured the No. 6 seed in the East. The Hurricanes upset New Jersey in the first round by winning the last two games, including scoring the tying and winning goals in the final 80 seconds of Game 7.
Ward, the MVP of the 2006 playoffs when the Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup, has won all six of his six playoff series - the last four going seven games.
With the top-seeded Bruins eliminated, the three highest seeded teams in the East and two of the top three in the West are out of the playoffs.
Only Detroit, seeded second in the West, moved on with a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
Boston was trying to accomplish what no other Bruins club has done - win a series it trailed 3-1. They are now 0-21 in those series, with only two going seven games. The other came last year in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens.
Bitz, a rookie forward, gave Boston the first lead with his first playoff goal. Michael Ryder's shot from the left point hit the back boards and rebounded to the right of goalie Cam Ward. Bitz swopped in and scored into the empty side of the net to Ward's left.
Brind'Amour tied it exactly two minutes after a penalty to Boston's P.J. Axelsson, who was about to leave the box when the goal was scored. Dennis Seidenberg took a shot from 45 feet directly in front of Thomas and Brind'Amour deflected it in.
Samsonov, who spent nearly his first eight full seasons with Boston, scored from Thomas' right by redirecting a pass across the slot from Joni Pitkanen.
Then Lucic tied it when he skated behind the defence and into an open spot at the edge of the crease. Phil Kessel had the puck behind the net, skated out and passed to Lucic, who lifted it over Cam Ward.
Notes: Carolina D Anton Babchuk was a healthy scratch after playing the first six games of the series. ... Bitz's first NHL game was against Carolina on Jan. 10. He had an assist. ... Boston's Stephane Yelle played in his 12th Game 7, most among active players. Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens hold the NHL record with 13.