Breaking Down Matt Cullen’s Game 7 Performances

Former Moorhead Spud Matt Cullen will play in his fifth Game 7 in the NHL when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on Tampa Bay for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday.

Cullen is 4-0 in Game 7s, all with Carolina. Here’s a look at his performances.

 

2006 Conference Finals versus Buffalo

Courtesy of the Carolina Hurricanes
Courtesy of the Carolina Hurricanes

Breaking into the NHL at age 21, Cullen did not win a playoff game until he was 29.

His first Game 7 was for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final in Carolina against the Buffalo Sabres in 2006. Buffalo took a 2-1 lead into the third, but Carolina scored three goals in the third to win the game 4-2 and the series.

Cullen had a quiet night with a plus-minus of minus-1. He was on the ice for 17 minutes, 22 seconds and did not record a point or a shot on goal.

Carolina won three of the final four games of the series.

 

2006 Stanley Cup versus Edmonton 

Photo by Chris Seward
Photo by Chris Seward

There’s nothing bigger than Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. In 2006, Cullen was once again at home in Carolina to face Edmonton to try to win his first Stanley Cup.

As opposed to the last series against Buffalo, Carolina held all the cards and watched them fall. The Hurricanes had a 3-1 lead in the series, lost Game 5 in overtime, were shutout 4-0 in Game 6 and entered Game 7.

Cullen’s father, Terry, was in the crowd that night and said it was one of the best games Matt has played.

Cullen had an assist on Aaron Ward’s goal 1:29 into the game. He had another assist on Frantisek Kaberle’s goal 4:18 into the second to put Carolina up 2-0 heading into the third. Edmonton cut it to 2-1 just 63 seconds into the third, but Carolina added an empty netter with 1:01 to go and that was it.

Cullen was on the ice for 13 minutes, 18 seconds, had two assists, four shots and finished with a plus-minus of plus-1.

 

2009 Conference Quarterfinals versus New Jersey

Carolina trailed 3-2 in the series, but won 4-0 at home in Game 6 to set up a Game 7 in New Jersey. Cullen got an assist on Tuomo Ruutu’s goal 1:02 into the game to open the scoring.

The Devils took a 2-1 lead into the second and a 3-2 lead into the third, but the Hurricanes scored a goal with 1:20 remaining  from Jussi Jokinen and a goal with 31.7 seconds remaining from Eric Staal on Martin Brodeur to stun New Jersey.

Cullen finished with a plus-minus of plus-1, an assist, one shot, one slashing penalty and 17:20 of ice time.

 

2009 Conference Semifinals versus Boston

Carolina had a 3-1 lead in the series on Boston before getting shut out 4-0 in Game 5 and losing 4-2 in Game 6 to set up a Game 7 in Boston.

Scott Walker finished his career with 30 playoff games in the NHL. His only playoff goal came with 1:14 left in the first overtime of this Game 7 to give Carolina a series win.

As for Cullen, he finished with 25:05 of ice time, a hooking penalty, a plus-minus of 0 and won 13 of the 23 faceoffs he took.