RALEIGH -- In a game that saw the first penalty-shot goal in a Stanley Cup final, the evaporation of a three-goal lead, and the loss of a starting goalie to injury, it seemed only fitting that the drama of overtime would provide the conclusion.
But this game had too many twists and turns for that.
So with 32 seconds left in a tie game came the final twist.
With starting goalie Dwayne Roloson in the training room and out for the season, the Edmonton Oilers botched a routine hand-off behind the net. It cost them the opener of the Stanley Cup final.
Replacement goalie Ty Conklin tried to leave the puck for Jason Smith, but shoved it between Smith's skates. Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour pounced on it and swept it into the open goal with 32 seconds left.
"It wasn't much that I did," Brind'Amour said. "I think there was a little mix-up about who was going to get it and obviously the goalie is behind the net. It was just a matter of flipping it into the net. You don't get too many of those, but I'll definitely take them."
The Carolina Hurricanes, who had trailed 3-0 late in the second period, had pulled out a 5-4 victory.
"I'm almost confused what to feel," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "I'm a believer in playing the game the right way and you'll win more than you lose."
But if that's to go down as Laviolette's Law, he should add a codicil: If neither team plays the game the right way, somebody still has to win.
Both teams were disappointed by their performance last night but at least the Hurricanes had some solace.
"It's fun being in a game like this at this time of year," Hurricanes forward Kevyn Adams said, "and it was exciting to come back. But you'd rather have a lead and keep the game under control than make it exciting."
But for the Royal Bank Center fans, the excitement was a bonus after the way their team started.
It clearly was the Oilers' strategy to make the most of the fact that they are the faster and fresher team. They forechecked with vigor and finished their checks.
The Oilers hit anybody who touched the puck and by the middle of the second period had built a 3-0 lead. The crowd was fairly quiet and even the occasional scattered boo was heard.
Fernando Pisani converted a rebound of a Raffi Torres shot to get the Oilers on the board in the first period.
In the second, the Oilers, still in control, were swarming the net with such ferocity that, in the hope of easing the pressure, Niclas Wallin cleared the puck from the crease with his hand and the Oilers were awarded a penalty shot.
Chris Pronger cruised in slowly, picked his opening, and snapped a wrist shot for the first penalty-shot goal in a final.
A few minutes later, Edmonton's Ethan Moreau took a routine shot from along the boards, but the puck hit Aaron Ward's arm and deflected into the net.
In earlier years, the game would have been over. But this is a new era and the Hurricanes are a comeback team.
Brind'Amour converted a rebound of Justin Williams' shot to start the festivities. Then, in the third period, the Hurricanes struck in a hurry.
Ray Whitney scored a pair in short order, the first from the top of the circle on a shot that Rolsoson should have stopped, the second on a power play awarded when Moreau took a senseless cross-checking penalty.
The game was tied, but the Hurricanes were far from finished. With the Oilers on the power play, Steve Staios fumbled the puck at the point. Williams jumped on it for a breakaway, moved in on Roloson and beat him between the legs.
In less than 13 minutes, the Hurricanes had scored four goals and taken the lead. But there were more twists to come. With the Oilers on a power play, Ales Hemsky brought the Oilers back.
Then the game took its most dramatic turn when Andrew Ladd drove the net and steam-rollered Roloson as Marc-Andre Bergeron pushed him into the goalie.
You know what happened next.