Stepped up

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jussi Markkanen was asked to give his team a chance to win.

He did just that last night as the Oilers lost 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7.

The Edmonton Oilers goaltender made 24 saves to keep his team in the hockey game, giving them an opportunity to pull out an improbable victory.

'TOUGHEST SITUATION'

"For him to come in, that must be the toughest situation I can imagine someone coming in," said Oilers forward Jarret Stoll. "I can just imagine all that pressure on him to come in and play well right away, especially not playing for so long."

Markkanen was summoned following Game 1 of the series due to Dwayne Roloson's knee injury.

Markkanen rotated as the backup with Ty Conklin, and had not stopped a puck in a game since March.

He had not won since January.

"It's not easy for him to come in not having played for two months. It was unbelievable," said Stoll. "The type of guy he is, he has great character. He's a great guy and would do anything for this team. There are a lot of guys that would do anything for this team in that room."

Markkanen's introduction into the Stanley Cup final was not an easy one.

He struggled in Game 2 and didn't get any support offensively as the Oilers fell 5-0 in the contest and went down 2-0 in the series.

However, the native of Imatra, Finland, was solid the rest of the way.

He made 24 saves in a 2-1 win in Game 3. Then pitched a shutout in Game 6.

Last night, he made a great save on Ray Whitney in the second period, then made another in the third.

"I have never seen a guy come in under that much pressure, hold himself together so well and play so well for us," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"He made some incredible saves for us tonight and for a guy that hadn't played for as long as he hadn't played, to come in and have this type of performance was certainly inspirational to me and his teammates tonight."

SMALL CONSOLATION

Coming in and playing well was small consolation to Markkanen. To him, just like the rest of the Oilers, making it to the final was not enough.

"It was a great experience obviously," said Markkanen.

"But when you get this close, it's really tough to take. It was a great run for the whole team for a couple of months. It was unbelievable.

"But we just came up a little bit short."


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