RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—The Edmonton Oilers were short-handed, just as they’ve been since the first game of the Stanley Cup finals.
They’re obviously getting used to it.
Fernando Pisani scored a short-handed goal early in overtime and the Oilers prevented Carolina from celebrating its first championship on home ice, stunning the Hurricanes 4-3 in Game 5 Wednesday night to send the series back to Alberta.
“This goal puts us right back in it,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but nobody wanted to see that trophy tonight.”
Pack it back up. Game 6 is Saturday night in Edmonton.
The Hurricanes lead the series 3-2, but the Oilers refused to buckle when facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs—even after Steve Staios was sent to the penalty box for dragging down Mark Recchi at 3:03 of overtime.
Just 28 seconds later, Pisani struck for his second goal of the game and the first short-handed overtime goal in finals history.
Carolina’s Cory Stillman, a star of the playoffs, made a lazy cross-ice pass for Eric Staal as the Hurricanes set up a rush. Pisani stole it at the blue line, broke in all alone on Cam Ward and beat the 22-year-old rookie to the top-right corner.
“I saw he was cheating to that side and I just picked the top half of the net to shoot at,” Pisani said. “To score that goal was huge.”
The Oilers are hanging tough and defying skeptics who expected the Hurricanes to finish things off quickly after Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson sustained a series-ending knee injury in Game 1.
With backup Jussi Markkanen playing another solid game—his third in a row — the Oilers are still alive.
“The guys have definitely been playing well in front of me,” Markkanen said, “so it makes it way more easy for a goaltender.”
Amazingly, the Hurricanes lost the game on the power play, a part of the game that has given them a huge advantage in the series. Carolina has converted eight of 33 chances with the man advantage, including all three of its goals in Game 5.
But Edmonton, which is 2-of-32 on the power play, managed to score the winner while short-handed.
“Certainly, that’s not what you are hoping for when you get a power play,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “The power play had been so effective all night. It’s an opportunity to win the hockey game and it didn’t happen.”
Actually, it did. For Edmonton.
Staal scored his first two goals of the finals for Carolina, which had a chance to win its first Stanley Cup on home ice and even went to the trouble of freezing a gold dollar under center ice for good luck.
Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth spotted the coin and dug it up during the morning skate, but the Hurricanes apparently stuck another one just under the ice before the game, “like a dog burying a bone,” MacTavish quipped.
“Maybe we’ll plant a loonie on Saturday,” he added, referring to a good-luck charm that worked for Canada in the 2002 Olympics.
Carolina, a franchise that was born in the old World Hockey Association as the New England Whalers and moved south in 1997, will have to wait at least three more days to sip from hockey’s most treasured prize.
“Everybody is upset, obviously,” Laviolette said. “But it’s one game. We’ll wake up tomorrow, go back to work, go back to Edmonton.”
If the Oilers—the first No. 8 seed to reach the finals under the current playoff format—can win again at home, it’s back to Raleigh for a decisive Game 7 on Monday night. Edmonton is trying to become only the second team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals.
This one was played after the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto moved through Raleigh, dumping up to 8 inches of rain and flooding a major shopping mall a few miles away from the RBC Center.
But the storm tapered off and Carolina’s fans were able to do their usual tailgating outside the arena, whipping themselves into a frenzy by the time they got inside—only to have the Oilers score on the first shot of the game.
Pisani got a stick on Chris Pronger’s slap shot from the blue line, deflecting it past Ward only 16 seconds after the opening faceoff. That sparked a wild first period, with the Oilers grabbing a 3-2 lead and the teams combining for more goals than either of the previous two games in Edmonton produced.
Both teams tightened up considerably over the final two periods of regulation. Staal scored the tying goal midway through the second, and the teams combined for only seven shots on goal in the third.
But the Oilers controlled the overtime, putting seven shots on Ward.
The last one beat him.
Markkanen blocked 21 shots and got a break when Ray Whitney’s point-blank shot went off the post with 7:47 left in regulation.
Staal scored his first goal 6 minutes into the first with Matt Greene off for hooking, capitalizing on a heads-up play by Doug Weight. After Markkanen stopped Staal’s initial shot, Weight fanned on the rebound but kicked the puck back to his teammate, who stuffed it past the goalie.
Carolina went ahead for the first time on Whitney’s goal 4 minutes later— again with Greene in the box for hooking. Weight was right in the middle of things again, this time jumping in front of Markkanen at just the right time so the goalie couldn’t see Whitney’s shot from the top of the circle.
“We want the cup!” the Carolina fans chanted.
Edmonton didn’t fold.
In fact, the Oilers did something downright unusual for this series—they scored on the power play. Dick Tarnstrom passed off to Art Hemsky in the left circle, and he whipped off a shot over Ward’s right shoulder to tie it at 2.
Michael Peca put the Oilers ahead again with 17.4 seconds left in a wild opening 20 minutes. Staal scored the only other goal in regulation, stuffing the puck under Markkanen midway through the second period after Staios was called for hooking.
Edmonton made a lineup change. LW Todd Harvey played for the first time, and enforcer Georges Laraque was scratched. … Carolina D Aaron Ward sustained an upper-body injury early in the second period, and Weight went off in the opening minute of third after getting sandwiched between two Edmonton players, favoring his shoulder. Ward returned to the ice, Weight didn’t.