By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
After an exhausting Double OT win in Game 5 at Carolina, the Bruins led the series 3-2. So, they headed back to home ice for a pivotal game six. With a win, the Bruins would advance to face the Buffalo Sabres in the Semifinals, and if not, it was Game seven in enemy territory. So far in the series, three out of the five games had been decided by one goal, two of the games being decided in OT.
The starting goaltender for the Bruins was Byron Dafoe, who had been having a stellar series so far, only allowing ten goals in five games. On the opposite side of the ice, Carolina was going with Arturs Irbe to try and hold off the Black and Gold. Game six is here, folks; let’s take a look back at this day in Bruins history.
Joe Thornton Gets the Party Started
The puck was dropped, and the Boston faithful was on their feet to support the Black and Gold. It wasn’t a pretty start for the B’s, as tough guy Hal Gill was whistled for interference leaving the Bruins shorthanded for two minutes. Boston’s penalty kill prevailed, and it was back to even strength, but not for long, as it was Boston this time going on the powerplay. Carolina’s Nolan Pratt was called for roughing, and Boston looked to pounce on the opportunity. Youngster Joe Thornton would do just that, and it only took 43 seconds into the powerplay.
Jason Allison set up behind the net and fired a pass in front to Dmitri Khristich, who found Thornton to his left, and Thornton capitalized to make it 1-0. It was Thornton’s first goal of the playoffs, and the Bruins looked to keep the pressure on Carolina. Other than a roughing penalty being called on both teams in the period, there was no further action, and both teams headed to the locker room for intermission with Boston on top 1-0.
Anson Carter Extends Lead/Bruins Advance to Semifinals
The second period was upon us, and the Bruins looked to extend the lead. They would have a great opportunity three minutes into the period as Carolina’s Kevin Dineen was whistled for Boarding, granting Boston the man-advantage. However, Boston could not capitalize, and Carolina began to hammer Byron Dafoe with shots on net.
With just over eight minutes played in the second period, Anson Carter led a 3-on-2 breakaway in the attacking zone, found Steve Heinze to his left, and Heinze passed it back to Carter, who was in front of the net and Carter buried it to make it 2-0 Bruins. The crowd was electric as Carter, and the Bruins celebrated the two-goal lead. It was Anson Carter’s third goal of the playoffs. Throughout the next eleven minutes of the period, Dafoe dominated between the pipes and didn’t allow Carolina to get on the board. After 40 minutes, Boston led Carolina 2-0, heading into the final 20.
20 minutes left until Boston advanced to the semifinals unless Carolina overcame a two-goal deficit to force a game seven. Three minutes into the final twenty, Carolina’s Curtis Leschyshyn got his stuck caught up way too high and high stuck a Bruin. The official called it a double-minor on Leschyshyn, and Boston would be on the powerplay for four minutes. If there was a time to really take control of the game, it was now. However, Boston could not score on the extra-long powerplay, and it was still just 2-0 with 13 minutes left in the game.
There was only 1:16 left in game six, and Carolina had yet to get on the board. As a result, Carolina Head Coach Paul Maurice pulled Irbe for the extra man as they desperately tried to tie the game. Yet still, Dafoe continued to dominate between the pipes and was diminishing Carolina’s hopes of crawling back in this game.
Finally, with the final seconds winding down, the Boston crowd was deafening as they knew Boston had the game in the bag and held on 2-0 to advance to the Semifinals! It was the first time since 1994 that the Bruins advanced past the first round, and awaiting them were Dominik Hasek and the Buffalo Sabres.
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