Babchuk comes up huge for Carolina; ‘Canes force Game 7

The Carolina Hurricanes rolled over the New Jersey Devils 4-0 last night, forcing a do-or-die Game 7 in Newark tomorrow night. Carolina Head Coach Paul Maurice made several changes to the lineup from Game 5, including replacing Frantisek Kaberle with Anton Babchuk on the third defense pairing with Niclas Wallin. This move paid immediate dividends as Babchuk made a smart defensive play, which led to Carolina’s first goal; they never looked back from there. Ray Whitney was the first star of the game, with a goal and three assists.

Big play from Babchuk

Anton Babchuk was back in the lineup Sunday after being scratched for Game 5, and it was a move with a pretty solid foundation.

Babchuk wasn’t happy at being left out, so you figure you’ll get a pretty good game from him. And it’s at home, so you get to control who he’s out against and should get more power plays to use him.

As these things often happen, Babchuk made a key play in the first period that led to Carolina’s first goal. After a long Carolina shift in the Devils’ zone, the Devils were on their way in the other direction when Babchuk held the puck in the zone at the blue line.

Babchuk’s deflection went straight to Eric Staal at the right circle. Martin Brodeur saved his shot, but Chad LaRose grabbed the rebound and fed Staal behind the net. Staal found an open Ray Whitney in front for Carolina’s first goal since Jussi Jokinen’s late game-winner in Game 4.

Babchuk didn’t get an assist on the play, but that goal doesn’t happen without his gutsy decision to stay put at the blue line — and the team that has scored first has won five of the six games in this series.

On the night, Babchuk was plus-1 in 19 minutes of ice time, with two shots on goal and one blocked shot.