I hate to feel the love between us die
But it's over
After a first period in which both teams could only muster seven shots on net, Florida had a 2-0 lead on goals by Ville Peltonen and Olli "guarantee" Jokinen. I sent a text message to a friend, who stayed home, saying "If you stayed home, you made the right call. We're playing with so much apathy." His response was "Last night was just as bad", referring to the 4-1 loss to the Thrashers in which they just went through the motions.
At 5:46 of the second, David Tanabe made a steal and wrist shot to cut the lead in half and bring the crowd to life. However, it didn't last long.
Moments later, Jay Bouwmeester gave the Cats their two goal cushion again with an assist from Jokinen.
Still a few minutes later, all the air went out of the building when the former Cane Martin Gelinas tapped one in for a 4-1 lead at 12:14 of the second. That's how it stood after 40. Our season was down to 20 minutes, and most of us just wanted the misery to end.
Did you say "This can't happen to me!"
Did you rush to the phone to call?
David Tanabe got another goal at 5:31 of the third. Suddenly, there was some hope. At least there was hope that for the second straight year, and the third out of four, we would have a hat trick on Free Hat Night. Last season, Eric Staal recorded a hat trick on Hat Night. In 2003-04, the Canes were beaten by the Red Wings 4-1 on hat night. In 2002-03, Jan Hlavac scored a hat trick against the Red Wings on hat night.
For the rest of the game, fans sarcastically screamed "shoot it!" whenever Tanabe was in posession of the puck.
Erik Cole finished a tic-tac-toe play with Andrew Ladd and Eric Staal to make the score 4-3 at 12:13. Although the season was over, this game wasn't.
The oldest Staal brother got his 30th marker of the season at 15:37, and the place went nuts. The game was tied. Meanwhile, Jordan Staal did not score for Pittsburgh, so he finished with 29 goals.
Nothing happened for the rest of regulation, but Carolina got off 20 shots in the third frame. They played like the 02-03 Canes for a week, for a month, for a season. Then when it doesn't matter, they play like the 05-06 Canes.
It's over. It's over
As is par for the course with the Panthers, the game went to overtime. And also par for the course was that a Panther committed a penalty early on.
- On December 23 in Florida, Jay Bouwmeester was guilty of tripping at 0:30 of OT, and Erik Cole won it at 1:59.
- On January 16 in Florida, Mike Van Ryn was guilty of holding at 1:30 of the OT , and Viva won it at 1:47.
- On April 1 in Florida, Bryan Allen was called for hooking and Ed Belfour for unsportsmanlike conduct giving the Canes a five-on-three at 1:06 of OT. Ray Whitney won it at 1:30.
- On April 7 in Raleigh, Bryan Allen was called for kneeing at 0:27 of OT. The Canes didn't win on the power play. Allen had a chance to redeem himself with a penalty shot, but failed.
Allen committed a turnover in neutral ice, giving Rod Brind'Amour a breakaway. It wasn't pretty, but he finished it, and for the fourth time this season, the Canes beat the Cats in overtime.
After Brind'Amour's goal, the hats came cascading down. Of course it wasn't a hat trick, and nobody thought it was, but it was a neat way to finish the season. A shower of hats.
After the game came the traditional "Sweater off my back" promo. Every year, the Canes have a promotion where the players give their sweater to a fan. The fans are chosen at random during the game, and in a short ceremony, the players literally take the sweaters off their backs and present them to the fans. I've never been lucky enough.
For a while now, I've been considering my options for next season. From a financial standpoint, I might have to scale back to a 10-game plan. Unfortunately, they don't let you select your exact seat for that package. Therefore, I had to say my last goodbye to that third-row seat. I should still be able to get a decent seat in the lower bowl, but nothing that good. I still have a few months to make the commitment, so I might still make the 24 thing happen, but I have to assume that I won't be sitting there anymore. I won't give up season tickets entirely, and after spending four seasons downstairs, I don't want to go back upstairs.
No matter what, I won't be going back to the RBC Center until October. Now I'm sad.