The Carolina Hurricanes scored twice in the final 80 seconds to stun the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Tuesday and advance to the NHL Eastern Conference semi-finals with the Game Seven victory.
The win before 17,625 stunned fans at the Prudential Center gave Carolina a 4-3 victory and put them into a best-of-seven series against the top-seeded Boston Bruins.
The second-seeded Washington Capitals, who advanced with a 2-1 Game Seven victory against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, will meet the fourth-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins in the other conference semi-final.
The Devils appeared poised to advance with NHL all-time wins leader Martin Brodeur protecting a 3-2 lead when Jussi Jokinen blasted home the equalizer off a pass from Joni Pitkanen at 1:20.
With 31.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Eric Staal beat Brodeur with another rocket from in close to seal an improbable victory for sixth-seeded Carolina.
“We were battling so hard the whole third period,” Jokinen told reporters by his locker. “We had some chances, they had some chances. Then Joni had a great pass to me and I had a great shot. It’s a great feeling. Obviously it feels good if you can be a difference maker in a game like that.”
CAPITALS 2, RANGERS 1
At Washington, thanks to sage Sergei Fedorov and a monumental comeback, the home side headed to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
The 39-year-old Fedorov beat New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist with 4:59 left in the third period for the Capitals to become the 21st team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1.
It’s also the franchise’s first series victory since the 1997-1998 season, when Washington made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. It must feel particularly sweet to the 16 players who were on the team a year ago, when the Capitals also trailed 3-1 in the first round, and also forced a Game 7 at home — only to lose to Philadelphia in overtime.
New York’s Nik Antropov and Washington’s Alexander Semin traded first-period goals. Fedorov, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with Detroit, took a pass from Matt Bradley on his winner and, with Rangers defenseman Wade Redden screening Lundqvist, sent a shot inside the far post.