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Carolina 8, Montreal 2
Posted: Tuesday May 14, 2002 01:45 AM
Carolina Hurricanes
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Montreal Canadiens
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MONTREAL (Ticker) -- The Carolina Hurricanes would not be denied their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The "BBC" line of Bates Battaglia, Rod Brind'Amour and rookie Erik Cole combined for nine points as the Hurricanes rolled to an 8-2 rout of the Montreal Canadiens and four games to two win in their conference semifinal series.

Cole set the tone 25 seconds into the game, sparking a five-goal first period for Carolina with his fifth playoff tally. After escaping a check from Joe Juneau, Cole tapped a pass from Brind'Amour just inside the right goalpost.

The rookie winger struck again just over three minutes later when he knocked down a bouncing puck and chipped it over the glove of goaltender Jose Theodore to double Carolina's lead.

"It was a well-balanced series. But in the end that balance swung our way," Cole said. "Imagine the history of the Canadiens, and we come in here and beat them in their own building."

In the six-game series, the "BBC" line registered 10 of Carolina's 21 goals and combined for 24 points.

"I am proud to be on the line with the other two guys," Brind'Amour said. "We played well together all year and now look at the results we're getting."

"The BBC line worked out great in the sense that they're built strong for playoff hockey," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice added. "Brind'Amour makes guys like Cole and Battaglia work hard."

Defenseman Sean Hill, Josef Vasicek and Kevyn Adams continued the barrage as the Hurricanes built a 5-0 lead with 95 seconds left in the period.

But the Canadiens' struggles began well before the first period as a collapse in Game Four shifted the momentum of the series. They had a 3-0 lead early in the third period before coach Michel Therrien drew an abuse of officials penalty that gave Carolina a two-man advantage.

Hill scored on the power play and the Hurricanes added two more goals to force overtime, then won on defenseman Niklas Wallin's first of the playoffs.

"We came up short in Game Four," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "That was a huge defeat. We thought we'd be able to regroup in the next two games, but it just wasn't possible."

The Canadiens were outscored, 17-3, after Therrien's penalty.

"We gave them 17 goals in the past three games. That's too much," Montreal right wing Donald Audette said. "It certainly took a lot out of us the way we lost Game Four. We still can't accept the way we lost. That's not the image of the Montreal Canadiens."

Arturs Irbe made 31 saves and Sami Kapanen had a pair of assists for Carolina, which was 3-for-4 on the power play. The Hurricanes took the final three games of the best-of-seven series and await the winner of the other Eastern Conference series between Toronto and Ottawa.

Hill took advantage of two lucky bounces to register the eventual game-winner. Kapanen slid a pass along the blue line to Hill, who was unable to get off a one-timer but managed to throw the puck on net. The shot tipped off two Canadiens and slipped between Theodore's pads.

Defenseman Stephane Quintal had a goal and an assist and for the Canadiens, who barely avoided matching the most decisive playoff loss in their storied history. They were beaten, 7-0, by the Seattle Metropolitans on March 19, 1919.

Quintal got Montreal on the board with 11 seconds left in the first period when he one-timed a pass from Yanic Perreault over Irbe's right shoulder.

But a change in goaltenders did not stop the onslaught. Stephane Fiset replaced Theodore to start the second period but was beaten on power-play goals by Battaglia and Hill as Carolina stretched its lead to 7-1.

The Hurricanes got another goal with eight seconds left in the second when Jeff O'Neill carried the puck from his own zone and teed up a shot at the top of the right faceoff circle that sailed over Fiset's glove.

"We always played good hockey in the second period," Carolina captain Ron Francis said. "That's the way we've been playing all season. We got such a lead in the first period tonight, I thought we would lose our focus."

 


 
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