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Scott Walker scored with 1:14 remaining in the first overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday at TD Banknorth Garden.
Ray Whitney put a shot on net that Tim Thomas stopped. He tried to knock the rebound away but Walker drove in and deflected it into the cage to bring the Hurricanes off the bench in elation.
The Hurricanes advance to the conference finals, where they will face the Pittsburgh Penguins with the first two games of the series at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
Carolina has now won four consecutive series in Game 7, dating back to their run to the 2006 Stanley Cup title.
Milan Lucic set the crowd of 17,565 into a frenetic state at 6:19 of the third period when he connected for his third of the playoffs off a feed from Marc Savard from behind the net to pull the home team into a 2-2 tie.
The Hurricanes opened a 2-1 lead 7:45 into the second on Sergei Samsonov’s fourth of the postseason off a tip-in. Joni Pitkanen set up the play when he skated along the left wing boards before feathering a saucer pass to Samsonov cruising down the slot.
The Bruins opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first period when Byron Bitz pounced on a juicy rebound left by Cam Ward in the slot to register his first career playoff goal. The Hurricanes evened the score just as a Boston penalty had expired when Dennis Seidenberg’s shot from the point was redirected home by Rod Brind’Amour, who was providing the perfect screen in front of goalie Tim Thomas.
Ward came up big late in the frame when he stoned Boston wing Chuck Kobasew on two quick jam attempts in the slot with less than 1:35 on the clock.
Ward and Thomas each finished with 34 saves, but Ward stopped the last shot he faced. Thomas did not.