RALEIGH, N.C. – Tied after regulation in a key playoff game, the Carolina Hurricanes were in need of a timely goal. That meant it was Jussi Jokinen’s time to shine.
Jokinen scored at 2:48 of overtime to lift the Hurricanes past the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. Sergei Samsonov scored a goal and assisted on Jokinen’s winner for the Hurricanes, who took a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 set for Friday night in Raleigh.
“Obviously it feels great, with the things I’ve been through this year,” said Jokinen, waived by the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to Carolina in February. “I found my confidence again here. It’s been a great ride.”
Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic both scored their first goals of the playoffs for Boston. The top-seeded team in the East has lost two straight and is trailing a playoff series for the first time this year after sweeping Montreal in the first round.
“We had some chances, but there’s such a thing as hockey gods, and sometimes they’ll give the breaks to the team that deserves it,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t really deserve this game, the way we played.”
Jokinen certainly wouldn’t let them have it. The hero of Game 4 of the first round, who scored off his skate with 0.2 seconds left to beat the New Jersey Devils, delivered another clutch goal.
Samsonov set up the winner by moving into the low circle and firing a backhander off Tim Thomas’ pads. Jokinen was positioned perfectly to tap the rebound into an open net for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
“The last month, the last two months, I’ve been getting my confidence pretty high, and I’m just believing in myself,” Jokinen said. “When you have your confidence high, you feel you can do some good things on the ice.”
He also scored the tying goal in Game 7 against the Devils with 1:20 left in the third period before Eric Staal won the series, scoring with 31.7 seconds remaining.
“I think there’s a belief that’s built in, that you have a tendency to keep the faith a little bit longer,” coach Paul Maurice said. “The fact of the matter is, the teams that don’t are already gone. That’s how it works. The teams that believe the longest just keep playing.”
Thomas made 38 saves for the Bruins. Carolina’s Cam Ward stopped 21 shots.
Recchi – a key member of the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2006 – tied it with just under 11 minutes left in regulation when he scored on a deflection, redirecting Chuck Kobasew’s shot from the wing past Ward to make it 2-2. Thomas kept it tied by withstanding an onslaught by the Hurricanes, who had a 38-19 shots advantage before overtime.
Two straight shots – from Staal and Samsonov, 69 seconds apart in the second – gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.
Staal started the scoring burst when he stole the puck from Steve Montador near the end line and whipped it by Thomas with 3:11 left in the second for his team-leading seventh goal. Samsonov – one of several high-profile Hurricanes with none – ended that dry spell just over a minute later, snapping in a pretty feed from Scott Walker.
“We were on the attack. We were skating well,” Staal said. “We were hustling to pucks and getting shots through from the point. If it didn’t hit the net, we were getting to the loose pucks in the corners. That’s a key to our team. That’s what makes us good.”
It also reignited a cowbell-clanging crowd of Caniacs, who were still buzzing after Carolina’s 3-0 win Sunday in Boston that shifted home-ice advantage to Tobacco Road.
Lucic did his best to silence them for a while, scoring his first goal of the playoffs about 8 1/2 minutes in.
“We have to make sure we’re doing the right things,” Recchi said. “Right now they’re a team that seems to want it a little bit more than us. For whatever reason, it’s desperate times now. We don’t want to go down 3-1. We’re going to have to play the best game of the year on Friday.”
Notes: Carolina improved to 2-1 in overtime in the playoffs. … Boston fell to 3-1 in the post-season when scoring first. … Carolina D Frantisek Kaberle was a healthy scratch, while the Bruins scratched D Shane Hnidy and RW Byron Bitz.