What the puck?

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Just when you thought last rites would be held for the Western Conference champions ... just when you thought it was safe to go outside again ... along come the Oil, with their blood, sweat and toil, and a commitment to foil the Hurricanes plans for a Stanley Cup bash. At least for one more game. For the folks in that hockey hotbed of Raleigh, nothing could've been "finah" than a parade in Carolina but it is now on hold thanks to this Edmonton bunch that hasn't quite grasped the concept of quit just yet.

It's funny what can transpire over the course of a series, and how expectations and momentum can shift from game to game, even period to period. When the series started, the Hurricanes were favoured. Better regular season record, home-ice advantage the reasons why. But when Edmonton opened up that 3-0 lead in Game 1, all bets were off. Until of course the Hurricanes roared back to take the lead, only to have Edmonton tie it, only to have Dwayne Roloson get injured, and only to have Ty Conklin poop the bed in the final minute.

So heading into Game 2, Carolina was an even bigger favourite, because of the momentum they had created with the Game 1 victory, and because of the injury to Roloson. Naturally they came back in Game 2 and completely bleached the dispirited Oil 5-0. Back to Edmonton they went for Game 3, with the must-win tag being applied to the Oilers, fully aware that only twice had teams come back from 3-0 deficits in any round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, most recently in 1975. Edmonton holds serve and wins Game 3, and is now of course, back in the series. As long as they win Game 4. Which they don't.

Which led us to Game 5 last night, in a packed Raleigh rink, complete with champagne and Lord Stanley's prized chalice.

Say what you want about Edmonton being one loss away from extinction, I still think the pressure was on Carolina last night. So much at stake, and a chance to take care of business on your home ice. The perfect scenario right? I have never thought so. When a series is tied 2-2, the pressure is equal for both teams ... it's a two out of three. But when you are the team leading a series 3-1, you are expected to go for the jugular, you are expected to seal the deal, you are expected to quite simply, win. That amounts to pressure. Edmonton was in nothing-to-lose mode. Season on the line, not expected to be here in the first place, go bust your asses, fellas, and let's see what happens.

They did and we saw. And now we have a Game 6 in Edmonton. Pressure still on Carolina. And if Edmonton can win on home ice, before another well-Oiled sellout throng, it's back to Raleigh for Game 7. And when it comes to Game 7's, there is no favourite, there is no edge. But there is pressure and it would all be on Carolina.


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