Everything appeared to be moving in the Devils' favor in the third period last night. Down 3-0, they rallied to tie the game and were moments away from overtime where they had to feel confident momentum would carry them to a victory. That would mean a 3-1 series lead and a light at the end of the tunnel they shared with a pesky Hurricanes team.
Alas, it wasn't to be. If you haven't seen Jussi Jokinen's goal with 0.2 seconds to play, check it out, but pay special attention to the replay at about the 35 second mark and then Martin Brodeur's behavior about a minute later.
NHL rules state that a player has to make a reasonable attempt to avoid contact with a goaltender, something Brodeur clearly feels that Jokinen failed to do. What's reasonable mean, though? Jokinen's back was to the goal and he was outside of the crease, so there was no reasonable reason for him to think that there would be a goalie there in the first place.
The phrase incidental contact comes to mind, and if Brodeur doesn't like it he should probably stay in the crease. Oh, the Devils' announcers will have you believe he's in the crease, but he isn't and that's why he's in the line of fire. It was a mistake in positioning and it cost the Devils the game.
Of bigger issue, though, is the way Brodeur reacted after the game. His petulant, childish reaction makes it two straight playoffs that have seen chinks form in Brodeur's legendary comportment. The NHL has been on a suspension kick in the postseason, but surely won't penalize Brodeur, although if Sean Avery throws the same tantrum tonight he'll probably be banned for life.