- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. "Y'all come back for Game 6," read a sign in the stands at the Entertainment and Sports Arena last night. That's if there is a Game 6, and chances are, there won't be.
The Detroit Red Wings methodically worked over the Carolina Hurricanes, taking a 3-0 victory and a 3-1 lead in games in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals. The fifth and possibly final game is Thursday night in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Only one team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs who were actually down 3-0 and rallied to beat Detroit.
Brett Hull scored the only goal that truly mattered, nicking the left post with a shot that eluded goalie Arturs Irbe at 6:32 of the second period. It was his 23rd game-winning goal in the playoffs, one short of the league record.
The shutout was authored by Dominik Hasek, his record sixth of this playoff season. Carolina has not scored in the last 127 minutes, 13 seconds.
"We're playing against a team that doesn't give you much, so getting that first goal gave us a real boost," said Detroit coach Scotty Bowman, who last night won his 35th finals game, the most in league history, surpassing the legendary Toe Blake. "Some of our best play came after we scored that goal, because they had to loosen up."
The sellout crowd stood and cheered their Hurricanes, knowing the series could be closed out Thursday in Detroit. The building was only slightly less loud than it was Saturday night, when it took the two teams more than five hours to determine a winner.
The insurance goal came from the oldest active player in the game, 41-year-old Igor Larionov, who ripped in a pass from Jiri Fischer at 3:43 of the third. It was Larionov's third goal in the last two games, and Hull and Larionov have accounted for Detroit's last five goals by themselves.
Larionov's fifth of the playoffs came with Irbe once again playing like the operator of a one-man, six-piece band. Fischer took a pass from Tomas Holmstrom and immediately fed Larionov, standing alone just to the right of the Hurricanes' net. Irbe did his best to get back, sweeping left to right, but the Russian center was faster.
Brendan Shanahan gave Detroit a 3-0 lead nearly 15 minutes into the third period when he slipped a puck into a vacant corner, just his second goal in his last 10 games and first of the final round.
Hull's goal was the 100th of his playoff career, making him only the fourth player in league history to hit triple figures. Wayne Gretzky is the all-time leader at 122, followed by Mark Messier at 109, and Jari Kurri at 106. All three are veterans of the Edmonton glory years.
"It's great just to be mentioned in the company of those people, such great players and great performers," Hull said. "I got to win a couple more [Cups] to catch up to them, but we're on our way here."
Hull, of course, is the player who scored the highly controversial goal in Buffalo two years ago in the third overtime that gave the Stanley Cup championship to Dallas in six games, the goal that people from Western New York still refuse to admit was scored. Sabres fans maintain the goal was illegal because Hull had a skate in the crease when the puck went in, which he did. But a rules clarification issued weeks earlier by the NHL, a change Buffalo officials admit they did not see, made the goal legal.
Hull played for years in the shadow of his famous father, Bobby, the Golden Jet of Chicago Blackhawks fame who became the first pro hockey player in history to land a $1million a year deal when he jumped to the World Hockey Association and signed with the Winnipeg Jets. Bobby had 62 goals (and 129 points) in 119 playoff games; Brett has 100 goals and 184 points in 185 playoff games.
Brett Hull undoubtedly will join his father in the Hall of Fame. With 679 regular-season goals, he already has surpassed his father in offensive totals and has indicated he will play at least one more seasons.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide