Oilers refuse to lose

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes were in the situation that represents the fantasy of every hockey player.

Get the next goal, win the Stanley Cup.

The trophy was in the building, but the Hurricanes couldn't take advantage of the golden opportunity.

Instead, the Edmonton Oilers got an overtime goal from Fernando Pisani and lived to fight another day

"Nobody wanted to see that trophy (last night)," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said after his team beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. "That's for sure."

It took a historic first -- never before had anyone scored short-handed in overtime in the final -- but if that's what was needed, Pisani was only too happy to do it. As a result, the Oilers came away with a victory and forced a Game 6 in Edmonton on Saturday. The Hurricanes lead the series 3-2.

"It happened so quickly," Pisani said after intercepting Cory Stillman's errant pass from the Hurricanes' zone and then charging in on a breakaway. "It was in my pants and I threw it down and took a quick look and saw that he (Carolina goaltender Cam Ward) was over to the blocker side and just shot it into the top half of the net."

"You could see it unfolding," Ward said. "I didn't think there was that much room. He put it right there.

"I didn't think there was much to shoot at, but he just put a good shot in the right place."

Even though the Hurricanes were unhappy they had blown their first opportunity to win the Cup, there was no sense of dejection in their room. Instead, there was a sense of resolve.

In his usual mature fashion, Ward shrugged off the defeat.

"Nobody is moping about around right now about the loss," he said.

"We've just got to get ready to go back to Edmonton."

"We have a lot of character in this dressing room," said Mark Recchi, who had drawn the penalty that set up the pivotal power play. "We'll bounce back. A loss is a loss, but right now, I'm not going to worry about it. It happened. We've still got the home-ice advantage and the pressure is still on them to win.

"This is playoff hockey and that's the way it's played. That's what it's all about. It's a long process."

It was only fitting the winning goal was scored during a power play. There had been little else all night long.

In fact, for the first half of the game, a penalty was called, on average, once every 2:46. And there were no coincidental penalties.

The Oilers opened the scoring only 16 seconds in -- there had been no power plays to that point -- on Chris Pronger's shot from the point.

The Hurricanes bounced back with a pair -- both on the power play -- from Eric Staal and Ray Whitney before the much-maligned Edmonton power play finally popped one of its own.

Ales Hemsky was the scorer, ripping a wicked shot from what seemed like a poor angle.

And then, with only 18 seconds left in the period, Mike Peca converted a Hemsky pass with each side playing a man short.

When Staal tied the score on the power play midway through the second period, the Hurricanes appeared to be rolling. Certainly their fans seemed to feel that way and the sense of anticipation in the building was all-pervasive.

But the Hurricanes couldn't beat Oilers goaltender Jussi Markkanen and finally, regulation time expired.

When the overtime tripping penalty was called to Steve Staios, the anticipation was in full force again.

But it was not to be.

"It's certainly not what you're hoping for when you get a power play," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "The power play had been so effective all night and it's an opportunity to win a hockey game. It didn't happen."

And as a result, the Stanley Cup still is waiting.


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