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Systems Analyst Classics : Juice Beats the Buzzer

Revisiting Jussi Jokinen’s Game 4 winner in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Four Photo by: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Making their first playoff appearance since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes faced off in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils. After splitting the first two games in New Jersey, the Canes dropped game 3 in Raleigh and desperately need a victory in game 4.

After scoring the game’s first three goals, the Canes allowed the Devils claw themselves back into the game, with three unanswered to pull even. With the game seemingly destined for overtime, Carolina executes a clean breakout out of their own end and Joni Pitkanen carries the puck through neutral ice.

The New Jersey forecheckers get caught deep in the Carolina end, negating the passive neutral zone that the other three Devils had established. Pitkanen cruises through center ice and flings a puck towards the net that is redirected wide.

Jussi Jokinen wins the race and backhands the puck back to the other side, where Pitkanen quickly pinches and carries below the goal line to maintain possession.

Jokinen works on defensive center John Madden behind the Devils’ net and eventually pulls a nice spin move on Madden.

With a step, Jokinen takes the puck to the net and attempts a wrap around, but Brodeur is up for the task.

The rebound is handled and the puck is shoveled to the corner.

Defenseman Paul Martin retrieves and attempts to clear off of the glass on his backhand. The puck doesn’t get out. Pitkanen holds the line and delivers a perfect pass into Dennis Seidenberg’s wheelhouse for a one-timer that deflects off of Jokinen’s skate beating Brodeur and the buzzer.

As the puck bounces off the glass, there is a brief chance for New Jersey winger Brendan Shanahan to aid the puck out of the zone. Instead he is picked by Hurricane captain Rod Brind’Amour.

Not only does the Brind’Amout pick play prevent Shanahan from making a play on the puck, it also prevents him from impeding Pitkanen’s walk to the middle of the ice.

Back at net front, there is a brief collision between Jokinen and Brodeur just a split second before Seidenberg’s shot.

Brodeur and the Devils argued for a goaltender interference call. Despite the fact that Brodeur is nearly a yard outside of his privileged area in the blue paint, the 2008-09 NHL rulebook’s rule 69 reads that “If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.”

In this case however, it is pretty apparent that the contact is incidental, which then creates the murky question, “did the goaltender have to time to get reset?” The answer isn’t clear in this instance.

Brodeur certainly got across and had a chance to make a save, but he doesn’t get as far over in his net as he would normally have liked. It’s grey areas in the rulebook like this one that encouraged the NHL to implement video review for goaltender interference calls, although that certainly has not been a flawless rollout and I’m not sure it would have helped here.

The Hurricanes would drop game 5 in New Jersey, but rally to win game 6 and game 7 in another stunning fashion to advance.