SWEEPING DOWN the
left wing late in the first period of a scoreless Game 4, his 6'2",
206-pound frame careering like a bowling ball, Carolina winger Erik Cole laid
what looked like an ankle-breaking deke on Wings defenseman Chelios and made
for the net--nothing but open ice, and Hasek, in his way. Hasek saw that the
puck was six inches off Cole's stick and blasted out of his crease, headed for
the left face-off circle. With a well-timed pokecheck as he flopped to the ice,
Hasek knocked the puck away. This is what you face trying to score on Detroit:
If you beat one Hall of Famer, there's another right behind him.
Hasek, the first
European-born, European-trained starting goaltender to capture the Stanley Cup,
was so sharp that he stopped 17 Carolina shots for his sixth shutout of the
postseason, still another record for a team amassing them as easily--and with
as little regard--as kids collecting bottle caps.
Hull put his own
name in the book at 6:32 of the second, when he controlled a nifty diagonal
pass from winger Boyd Devereaux at the left circle, then wristed the puck into
an open net for the eventual game-winner. It was Hull's 100th career postseason
goal, fourth most alltime. It was also the second clutch goal in as many games
for Hull, once derided as a playoff no-show but who now found himself garnering
a reputation as a reliable sniper. (He had won the '99 Stanley Cup for the
Dallas Stars with a triple-overtime goal in Game 6.)
congratulations all around: for Larionov, who deposited defenseman Jiri
Fischer's pass behind Irbe at 3:43 of the third, and for Shanahan, who
collected just his second point in 10 games by finishing Fedorov's lead pass 11
WE LIKE OUR WINGS
BBQ'D, read a sign at Raleigh's Arena, but the only BBQ was laid on the
BBC--the Hurricanes' line of Bates Battaglia, Brind'Amour and Cole, which had
struggled so badly that Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice broke them up, sticking
Sami Kapanen on the left wing. Detroit's superior talent was being brought to
bear, and the end was near.
THE WINGS put it
away early in Game 5, getting goals from Tomas Holmstrom and Shanahan 10
minutes apart in the second. At 4:07 of the second--with Detroit's fourth line
of Holmstrom, Larionov and Robitaille matched in a minutelong shift against
counterparts Jeff Daniels, Kevyn Adams and Tommy Westlund--the Wings worked the
puck down low until Holmstrom gave Adams the slip in the slot, then extended
his stick as he drove on net, tipping Larionov's feed through Irbe's five
Shanahan made it
2-0 at 14:04 on the power play, blasting Fedorov's feed from the left post high
to Irbe's stick side. It was only Detroit's third power-play goal in 25 chances
during the finals, but it was a backbreaker, forcing Carolina to open up its
offense and forecheck more aggressively through the neutral zone. Although
O'Neill's slapper at 18:50 of the second trimmed the lead to 2-1, the
Hurricanes would get no closer. With chants of "We want the Cup!"
crescendoing from a restive crowd, Shanahan potted an empty-netter with inside
a minute left. "You just want to make sure that you leave an impact,"
said a somewhat redeemed Shanahan, who collected his third goal in two games
after scoring only one in his previous 10.
The truly seismic
impact came at the end, when Bowman strapped on skates and darted onto the ice,
wanting, as it turned out, a last turn with the Cup that had been his eight
times before. Bowman, who collected his ninth Cup to surpass the record of his
mentor Toe Blake, was calling it quits. His revelation (he had decided, he
said, during the Olympics in February) subdued the otherwise unmitigated glee.
Recalled Wings owner Mike Ilitch, to whom Bowman delivered a third Cup in six
seasons, "He leaned over and told me, 'I've got to go.'" The best there
was, and like that, he was gone.