What a year it has been for Jussi Jokinen, who now has two game-winning goals in the playoffs after his overtime score Wednesday night in Game 3 against the Bruins.
For Jokinen, the season began with the Tampa Bay Lightning, under a new coach, Barry Melrose. But Melrose was fired and Jokinen fell out of favor with interim coach Rick Tocchet.
"I was waived twice and no one was willing to pick me up," he said.
But the Hurricanes wanted him. On Feb. 7, they dealt Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and a draft pick to the Bolts for Jokinen, who played for the Canes that night in Phoenix.
"He was a quiet but huge addition for our team," Canes coach Paul Maurice said, noting Jokinen's ability to center any line, play the wing, take faceoffs, be used on shootouts.
In early March, Jokinen suffered through a personal tragedy. His father, Keijo, died in Finland, and Jokinen returned to his native country for the funeral, missing four games.
Jokinen, who had a goal and 10 assists in 25 regular-season games with the Canes, has been anything but quiet in the postseason. He now has five goals and an assist in 10 games, and his goal with two-tenths of a second left in Game 4 against New Jersey was one of the most incredible in franchise history.
Jokinen scored the tying goal with 1:20 left in Game 7 against the Devils, with Eric Staal following with the winner with 31.7 seconds left. Now, he has the overtime winner to give the Canes a 3-2 win over the Bruins and a 2-1 series lead.
"He's had a knack," Canes center Matt Cullen said. "It's funny. It seems like a guy every playoffs steps up and scores some big goals, and he's done that for us. He's played some really good hockey."
The Canes had forwards Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov on the ice when the winning goal was scored — two Finns and a Russian (defenseman Joni Pitkanen, another Finn, also was playing). Samsonov got off a shot from the right wing, Ruutu crashed the net in front of goaltender Tim Thomas and Jokinen was free to poke in the rebound of Samsonov's shot.
"We don't call any plays on the bench," Maurice said. "That's all feel. The game of hockey, there's so much chaos built into the game. We have certain concepts and things that each team wants to do in terms of offense, but so much of that is feel.
"I do think there are times the European players work a little differently together. Ruutu and Jokinen do have some chemistry together. (Ruutu) knows that on that line his job is to get to the net as hard as he can."
Ruutu did his part. Samsonov, who scored a second-period goal, put the shot on net. Jokinen was there to clean it up and get the winner.
"Obviously it feels great after all the things I've been through," Jokinen said. "I'm thankful to (general manager) Jim Rutherford. He made the trade and I found my confidence again here.
"It's been a great ride so far."