Gleason’s OT winner ties ‘Canes/Devils series | Sports

Gleason’s OT winner ties ‘Canes/Devils series

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TV/ FSN-CR And now, we have a series. After a head-scratching 4-1 loss to open the playoffs, the ‘Canes struck back to take Game 2 from the Devils, 2-1, at home in overtime off Tim Gleason’s first and only goal of the season. To say that the ‘Canes’ stay-at-home stalwart isn’t “offensively gifted” is sort of like saying that Pamela Anderson isn’t a rocket scientist, but he picked the perfect time to emulate OT magician Niclas Wallin and open the floodgates.

Speaking of Wallin, the former extra innings champion reportedly “blessed” Gleason’s sticks before the game. Somebody get David Blaine on the phone…or Pope Benedict, perhaps?

The game took a familiar turn when the Devils’ Travis Zajac batted the puck in early. The goal was disallowed because Zajac’s stick was determined to be above the crossbar, but Zach Parise scored off a deflection on the power play shortly afterward.

The game remained at 1-0 due, yet again, to another stunning performance by Ward, who would wind up with 33 saves. During the second period, Eric Staal received one of those neatly plattered rebounds that eluded the overexcited, confused ‘Canes in Game 1 and scored a garbage goal to tie it up. A Ray Whitney shot on the power play bounced right off the end board and back to Staal, who sent the puck over a diving Brodeur.

The Devils’ defense appeared solid. Brodeur, as always, was a brick wall. Carolina proceeded to take several stupid penalties against the perennially disciplined New Jersey, including two by a suddenly feisty Joni Pitkanen. Carolina managed to clean up the mess each time. Pitkanen’s shot rang off the post late and it looked as though it might not have been the ‘Canes’ night after all.

The Hurricanes came into OT looking strong and maintained possession for a long stretch. Then, at long last, it was Gleason’s turn to be the hero. He took a gorgeous pass from Joe Corvo and unleashed a slap shot that appeared to deflect off a Devils’ defenseman Niklas Havelid and past Brodeur. Staal, who had parked his 6-foot-4 self in front of the net, hopped up and down almost as excitedly as he did when he himself scored the OT winner in Game 3 against Montreal three years ago. Gleason, on the other hand, managed to look both elated and completely surprised.

Wait…did I just see the number ‘5?’ Who wears 5 again? Mo decided to make a change after Wednesday’s 4-1 drubbing and substituted Tim Conboy and Dennis Seidenberg for Ryan Bayda and infrequently-used D-man Frantisek Kaberle for Game 2 and the results were, well…pretty good. Conboy was pulled after his NHL playoff debut because honestly, New Jersey is not looking to pick a fight and neither are the ‘Canes, and there’s not a real reason to have him out there anymore. He was very valuable during the regular season grind, but now? Good pick, Mo. Frank Kaberle is battle tested in the playoffs and he played a solid game tonight, totaling nearly 15 minutes on the ice.

Stealing one from New Jersey at home and regaining that confidence could do wonders for the ‘Canes, who will now return for two games at the RBC Center. Naturally, now is not a time to be overconfident. The ‘Canes played well but still barely squeaked by in this one, and the AP reports that the Devils are 14-4 after winning the first game of a series. Eek!

However, the friendly confines of the RBC Center has worked wonders for Carolina. Caniac Nation, be prepared to scream. Pop a few lozenges; give those vocal cords a rest tomorrow. Learn some basic sign language in order to communicate with friends, children and significant others. The ‘Canes will need every one of you screeching to the best of your ability on Sunday.

Game 3 is Sunday at 7 p.m. at the RBC Center. Be there, or you never know…Niclas Wallin might put a hex on you.

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