Last Thursday night produced a number of great sporting events. Plays that might seem ordinary during the regular season take on special meaning in the playoffs. In the NHL and NBA Playoffs last Thursday night, some great moments occurred that could shape this year's championships.
Scott Walker's overtime goal - Walker, a right winger for the Carolina Hurricanes, chose the perfect time to score his first career playoff goal. He pounced on a rebound and scored the game-winning goal for the Hurricanes in their Game 7 showdown with the Boston Bruins. Walker has played in the league for 13 years and had played in 23 playoff games without a goal. That's a lot of games to play without scoring! But Walker kept trying and scored the most important goal of the season. If the Hurricanes had lost the game, they would have been eliminated from the playoffs. Instead, because of Walker's heroics, they will move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Detroit reaches Western Conference Finals - In another exciting NHL Game 7, the Detroit Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks thanks to Scott Cleary's winning goal with just three minutes left in the game. The Red Wings move on to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. This is the third time in a row that Detroit has reached the conference championship round. Last year, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. In the game of hockey, every team usually tries its hardest against the defending champs. Because of this, it's very hard to advance deep into the playoffs year after year. However, the Red Wings have been able to match the effort and determination of their opponents and continue to be one of the best hockey teams in the league.
Houston forces Game 7 with the Lakers - When the NBA Playoffs started, most fans assumed that the Los Angeles Lakers would win the Western Conference and play for the NBA Championship. But first they have to get by the Houston Rockets. In last Thursday night's Game 6, Houston made eight straight shots at the end of the third quarter to hold off the charging Lakers and even out the second-round series at three games each. The Rockets are playing without one of their best players, Yao Ming, who was injured earlier in the series. But led by motivated players like Shane Battier, Houston plays excellent defense and has been able to keep Los Angeles superstar Kobe Bryant from scoring a lot of points. Bryant and the Lakers may be flashy and have won more games this season, but the Rockets have stayed right with them in the playoffs by hustling and playing as hard as they can. The winner of Sunday's Game 7 will move on to face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.
Most years, the NHL and NBA Playoffs give fans a handful of memorable moments. This year, we got three of them in one night.
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