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Systems Analyst Classics: Beaten in Buffalo

Daniel Briere’s power-play marker delayed Carolina’s dreams of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, even if only temporarily.

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres - Game 6 Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Just one win away from a birth to the Stanley Cup Final, the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes headed to Western New York for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Buffalo Sabres.

With their backs against the wall, the Sabres opened the game’s scoring in the first period. Brian Campbell wraps the puck along the wall where Daniel Briere collects it. Briere walks out front and finds a shooting lane after Frank Kaberle is picked. Cam Ward kicks out a juicy rebound and JP Dumont gets his stick free to score.

Niclas Wallin has good inside body position on Dumont, but is unable to tie up his stick. Dumont’s shot is well placed, over Ward’s glove hand.

The Sabres would carry that lead through the first and second intermissions and it appeared that Dumont’s marker may stand as the game’s only goal. But with just under four minutes to play in regulation, the Hurricanes would find the equalizer with Peter Laviolette opting to use four forwards at even strength.

Justin Williams wins a battle behind the net and pokes a loose puck to Cory Stillman. Stillman sets up in Gretzky’s Office and finds Matt Cullen at the top of the circle. Cullen sells the shot and makes a D-to-D pass to Bret Hedican who puts a wrister towards the goal.

Cullen’s fake slap shot freezes Ryan Miller and causes him to drop to the ice. Once the puck gets to Hedican, Miller pops up and slides across and actually gets in good position on the top of his crease.

But Hedican’s quick snap shot finds its way through traffic and into the top corner.

Stillman’s secondary assist is well earned with the pass out to Cullen traveling through Rory Fitzpatrick’s legs and all the way out to the point.

Just under two minutes into overtime, Doug Weight gets too aggressive on the forecheck, throwing a dangerous and ill advised hit. Both referees’ arms went up and Weight was whistled for boarding.

The Hurricanes’ biggest penalty kill of the night started well, as the team killed the first minute and a half fairly easily.

It looked like the Canes may get another clear after Rod Brind’Amour and Justin Williams disrupt another Sabres zone entry. But as Williams goes to clear the puck, he is tripped up after getting entangled with Briere. The Sabres are able to keep the zone and find the winner.

While Williams is tripped up, the contact is pretty incidental, knocking Briere to the ice as well. The miscue allows Derek Roy to collect the puck, tight turn and make a pass to Rory Fitzpatrick that stretches both Brind’Amour and Williams. Williams even leaves his feet anticipating a Fitzpatrick shot.

Fitzpatrick’s one-touch pass and the spaced out defenders gave Briere time and space to take a few strides towards the middle of the ice. Cam Ward, perhaps anticipating a pass, is handcuffed by Briere’s quick shot.

Ward is able to get a glove on the puck, but cannot catch it, instead sending the puck fluttering through the air, almost in slow motion, before it lands across the goal line behind him.

As Aaron Ward challenges Briere, he crouches down hoping to put himself in better position to block the shot. But by gliding out and crouching, Ward limits his own mobility and slows his progress, allowing Briere the time to advance towards a better shooting angle in the middle of the ice.

To be fair to the defenseman, Ward was erring on the side of caution after Just Williams extended himself out towards the blue line and did not want to get too aggressive.

Fortunately for both Wards and the rest of the Hurricanes, Carolina would return home and eliminate Buffalo in Game 7, a matchup that will be featured in the next edition of Systems Analyst Classics.