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Drop the gloves during the playoffs with SI.com's writers in the NHL Cup Blog, a daily journal of hockey commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
12:55 AM ET, 6/15/06

Oilers storm in, grab momentum

Posted by Michael Farber
The remnants of tropical storm Alberto ravaged Raleigh on Wednesday, flooding low lying areas, blocking routes to the rink, creating havoc in the Triangle and getting the starved-for-attention region some national recognition on the Weather Channel if not on NBC. If the morning deluge were any heavier Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes could have arrived for the morning skate by pontoon.

But just when things seemed bleakest -- and being one game away from elimination in the Stanley Cup final is as bleak as it gets -- the Edmonton Oilers espied a silver lining, deciding to change the name of Tropical Storm Alberto to Hurricane Alberta.

"So," said Oilers defenseman Chris Pronger said, who played 33:46 and was a plus-three, "it was nice to see that we were getting as little bit of love from the weather."

At 11:07 p.m. the storm was downgraded to a depression for almost 19,000 disappointed celebrants at a hockey rink in North Carolina.

So you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows after this particular natural disaster in Carolina. For the Hurricanes, blowing Game 5 at home, 4-3, in overtime, necessitates another five-hour plane ride, another game, or two, against an Oilers team that keeps finding ways to stay afloat.

This was the unlikeliest way to end it, however. There never had been a shorthanded overtime winner in the history of the Stanley Cup final, maybe because there never had been a penalty called in overtime before. (Just kidding. Sort of.) But was it any wonder that it would take fewer than four minutes of the first overtime game in the "new NHL" for a shorty. The winner was scored by Fernando Pisani, Edmonton's favorite son even before he lasered a shot over the glove of Carolina goalie Cam Ward at 3:31 of overtime, bailing out defenseman Steve Staios -- he had taken a tripping penalty -- and the entire city, province and perhaps country. There might not be anything like a free lunch in the Stanley Cup final, but Pisani will never have to buy dinner in Edmonton's Little Italy for the rest of his life. He can dine out on the play, a sleight-of-hand perpetrated on the estimable duo of Eric Staal and Cory Stillman, a pair of forwards who have been the Hurricanes' most dangerous offensive players.

(Like many teams, the Hurricanes use a forward on the point of the power play. The only defenseman Carolina had on the ice was Frantisek Kaberle, and he was nowhere in sight.)

The problem is Staal and Cory Stillman were playing pitty-pat with the puck: Staal to Stillman and up to Staal near the blueline, passes so languid that they had a "use by" date. Pisani, who had tipped home a Pronger point shot 16 seconds into the match to announce that the Oilers really meant business, swooped in on Staal, who uses one of the longest sticks in the NHL, and managed to deflect the puck. It wound up in Pisani's pants -- a foreign object, for sure -- and he shook it free, skating in with enough time to peek at Ward, who was cheating a tad to his blocker side. Then, whoosh.

"He made no mistake tonight, just ripped it through the back of the net," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of Pisani's goal. "He's played incredibly well through these playoffs. [Pisani is tied with the Hurricanes' Rod Brind'Amour for the playoff lead with 12 goals.] That's really what's been absent through the first four games of the series, that timely scoring. He's at a level now where you expect it from Fernando, but prior to the last round or two, (we'd been getting scoring from) unexpected sources, and (recently) we haven't been finding those unexpected sources offensively. And when your power play isn't that proficient" -- the Oilers snapped a 1-for-25 streak when Ales Hemsky cashed in the Oilers' first man-advantage of the game -- "it's a tough combination to overcome. And tonight we got a power play goal, we got some goals from varied sources, and that's the reason we won the hockey game."

Sure. That and Hurricane Alberta.

Apparently Oilers and water do mix.


Posted: 1:45 AM   by DeadSquid
Back to Edmonton.
Oil in 7
Posted: 9:39 AM   by Anonymous
Tired about Carolina's whining - this time about losing Ward for a couple of periods and Weight for part of the game. Try playing with 4 of your top 5 D-men out as Buffalo did.

And what was that Cam Ward stick-swinging at the end of the game? Frustrated?

Go Oilers!
Posted: 11:29 AM   by Anonymous
Posted: 12:16 PM   by Anonymous
Im from Sherwood Park, and we all knew that Hurricane Alberto was downgraded to Tropical Storm Depression. was that a sign?? Our oil will rise to the top, and Game six will be a Dandy. Go OILERS........and Hurricane AlbertA. Chao
Posted: 12:52 PM   by Anonymous
Carolina isnt whining, Oilers are just playing dirty and that cheap shot at the end of the 2nd period should have been penalty. Oilers just got lucky, Canes in Game 6!!!
Posted: 12:56 PM   by Anonymous
Mr. Farber,

This was very well-written from top to bottom. I look forward to seeing more of what you pen.

Scott, webb@mediacen.navy.mil
Posted: 12:57 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe the Canes should look back to the Buffalo series to see how to win with players out. Or maybe they will just whine about it and make more excuses.

Loved the SHG by Pisani. PP denied!
Posted: 1:01 PM   by Anonymous
After Edmonton won game 3, everyone was back on their bandwagon. What happened next? The Oilers lost game 4. The same thing will happen this time. The Hurricanes have not lost consecutive games since dropping the first two against Montreal, and it won't be happening again. Carolina is too resiliant and well-coached to blow a 3-1 lead.
Posted: 1:37 PM   by Anonymous
Canes back on track Saturday!

They will have more determination and passion in Game 6. Look for MACTAVISH(the real cocky whiner)to make more excusses after his team loses the cup at home.

Go Canes!
Posted: 1:51 PM   by Anonymous
If the hurricanes do get back on track, it will at least be gratifying to see them raise the cup to boos. I think that sums up how much of the hockey world feels about them.
Posted: 1:55 PM   by Anonymous
Hey 12:52 anonymous, since we are complaining about dirty play not being called a penalty, what are your thoughts on that spectacular dive by Kevyn Adams late in the first (I believe)? Should that have been a penalty? The Canes and their fans are one annoying bunch. They are so happy to complain about other teams playing dirty or other fans whining, but they really need to look in the mirror.
Posted: 1:59 PM   by Anonymous
Notice to Edmonton: ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS.

Edmonton was very fortunate in OT on a mental lapse by the Hurricaines, just as Carolina was near the end of game 1 on the mishandled goalie play.

Even if Edmonton eaks out another win at home on the fumes they're running on, they will not beat Carolina three in a row, twice at the RBC Center. My strong suspicion is a very focused Hurricaine team will be flying back to Raleigh with the Stanley Cup. If not, game 7 in Raleigh will be packed with frenzied fans, and I doubt Carolina will disappoint.
Posted: 3:32 PM   by Anonymous
Are there any Canes fans outside of Raleigh? Up here in NYC the Oilers fans outnumber Canes fans in the bars by a factor of 20-1.

Go Oilers!
Posted: 6:23 PM   by Bill
I'm an Islander fan and I love this Oilers team! Just when you think they are down and out they suprise you! Edmonton in 7!! The cup should never be in Carolina.
Posted: 9:59 PM   by Anonymous
hey 1:55, i agree that diving should be a penalty and so are other stuff that wasnt called. But i dont agree with you comparing diving as the same with cheapshots to hurt players. cheapshots should be called for a major penalty. maybe you should look at your coach being the whiny one complaining about everything. canes never lost 2 in a row and it will end in games 6 as everyone predicted.. Go Canes!!!
Posted: 10:06 PM   by Anonymous
hey bill, i know how pissed you are that our coach( your former coach) can get our canes in the stanley cup thats why your pulling for the oilers. Canes in 6!
Posted: 4:59 AM   by Anonymous
There indeed are Huricanes fans outside Raleigh (Konstanz, Germany). And I really like the way the series is played by both teams. Interesting that with one slim win, being fortunate enough to get another chance, Oilers fans get nasty inspite of being proud to have just beat a great team. Remember your greatness is measured by whom you have been victorious against.
Posted: 12:16 PM   by Anonymous
Long time hockey fan - I have never seen so much whining from one team - the WhiningCanes. Have followed most of their games since Buffalo - they must have a Ton of cheese in both Carolinas to have with the w(h)ine.
Posted: 12:43 PM   by nightfly
So Laviolette coached our boys, so what? Should we root against him because of that? What about Mike Peca and Raffi Torres? It's not like any of them hosed the Isles - if anything Milbury did, and he's gone, so let's not assume that we Isles fans are going to hold grudges like a bunch of third-graders. (Except against Don Maloney for 1993, heheheheh.) Speaking of which, what's with all the brilliant "analysis" like "Oh yeah, what about that play? Enjoy it while it lasts!"

All that should matter to a hockey fan is that these games stay competitive and entertaining. Enough of this "the Cup doesn't belong in Carolina" stuff. It belongs wherever it's earned. The world didn't spin off its axis when Dallas won, or when the Flames beat Montreal in the old Forum. This has been a great series and a great playoff year and it's just what the league needed.
Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
Look for Cory Stillman to pick his game up. Hey, where has Matt Cullen been?

Sorry Oil. Too much team for you.
Cup's coming to Raleigh.

Be a better series without the nonexistent/marginal penalties called by the ref's. Take one ref off the ice and let them play.

Mr. Bettman's post strike penalty definitions mess up the game.
Posted: 12:58 PM   by Anonymous
Why on earth are people calling MacT a whiner! I have not heard a single coach this whole playoff run be so frank and straightforward with the media. He has always given the opposing team its due. Unlike some Canes players and staff after they lost in Game 3, MacT has not blamed any loss in this series on anything but the Oilers. He has spoken well of the Canes and has stated over and over again what a good team they are. Maybe it's just me, but I have yet to hear that from the Canes coaches... The only time he got upset was with the stupid questions about Hemsky and the PP, but he DID NOT whine.

Stop slamming my coach!
Posted: 1:04 PM   by Anonymous
"...starved for attention region" -- are you referring to the whole of Canada? yeah, edmonton did play well in game 5, but didn't they have to? no one expected them to give up. they played well and they won. why is it so impossible for one canadian team fan to say, "hey, carolina is not a bad team." they did finish just behind the mighty senators. i have never heard so much disrespect for another team just because of where they are geographically. shouldn't canadians be happy to see a growing hockey market? or is it just making it too difficult to bring the cup "home?" the canes play well and they are still leading 3-2. i route for good hockey and we are getting it, but i think it would be better if edmontonians showed a little respect for hockey everywhere.
Posted: 1:17 PM   by Anonymous
on the purported Kevyn Adams dive, did it ever occur to anyone that he just fell? remember he didn't call the penalty. having watched adams play for the last few years, i am inclined to think that it is below average skating skills that made him go down. he falls all the time. even if we agree he dove, are you really going to contend that oilers and players everywhere don't dive?? call them all!! this is one canes fan who does not think that edmonton was playing "dirty" or "cheap." we lost a desparate one and it stings, but we will be back and we will win it in hockey's homeland! i love the playoffs!
Posted: 2:21 PM   by Anonymous
Not quite sure why MacT is being labeled as a whiner. I have seen nothing but acceptance and praise for the other team after every Edmonton loss. I have seen much more whining out the Carolina coaching staff and players. With an unbiased opinion I think Edmonton has had a lot more to whine about. The refs tried very hard to keep this series from going to a game 6. The new rules have been good for the game but lets not be ridiculous.
Posted: 2:46 PM   by Anonymous
One man's cheap play is another's veteran strategy. Brind'Amor is the best at it and I give him full respect for it. Hockey is a hard hitting game...so when someone hits hard is that a cheap shot? If you can wind the other player for a minute, isn't that just good strategy? If you can clamp your arm on the other guy's stick to draw a penalty, isn't that just the smart thing to do?

This isn't teattime at the NHL, it's frikken hockey at the Stanley Cup Finals!
Posted: 5:20 PM   by Anonymous
The oilers are nothing more than a collection of common thugs, intent on cheating their way in.

No matter. Enjoy game 5, because that WAS your Stanley Cup.

The 'Canes will net 3 quick goals in the first, and the vaunted Rexall crowd will be sitting on their hands.

I would be embarassed if I was an oiler's fan.
Posted: 7:52 PM   by Anonymous
All those hits on your beloved Canes were clean...

Hmm... between that visor boy Justin Williams taking out Saku Koivu (the only reason the Canes even made it out of the first round) and the team's knack for running various goaltenders throughout the playoffs, you calling the Oilers thugs is quite amusing.

Just because a team is tough and doesn't whine doesn't make them thugs... it makes them hockey players. If the Canes fans don't like it, their team can suit up in dresses...they obviously have no idea what hockey is all about.
Posted: 9:21 PM   by cuff
I knew oilers would stay alive.go oilers bring the cup home.Game 7 all the way
Posted: 10:19 PM   by Anonymous
I hope the Canes enjoy their dream season. Is anyone else giddy for the inevitable mediocre Canes team next year that averages 7500 fans/game and equally inevitable "hey, why can't this city support their team? they just won the Cup" stories.

I am.
Posted: 8:56 AM   by Curtis
HAHAHA a ton of cheese to go with their w(h)ine!! that's the funniest, and by far most original comment I've ever heard. Maybe next time you should be even MORE original and say something about how the Cup doesn't belong in Carolina just because we're from the South, and not 'real' hockey fans. God you people crack me up. 'Canes in 6...
Posted: 2:24 PM   by ms.hockey
carolina must immediately consult their sport psychologist so they're mentally prepared for game 7, get oleg trevdorsky to give some energy in the defensive lineup since glen wesley and aaron ward are not playing 100%, go back to the way they play in game 2, and remind themselves of the heartbreak of 2002 cup final. that'll get them going
Posted: 9:38 PM   by Anonymous
"Just because a team is tough and doesn't whine doesn't make them thugs... it makes them hockey players."

Well said. Carolina got owned in game 6. Note to Carolinians- hockey is a physical game. You wish your squad could hit like the Oilers, and you'd be cheering them on if they could. There is NOTHING dirty about the way Edmonton is playing. There's no quit in that team, let's see if yours can say that after game 7.