Oilers lose Game One and Roloson
RALEIGH, N.C. (CP) – The Edmonton Oilers’ bid to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in 13 years is a longshot proposition now that goaltender Dwayne Roloson has been lost for the balance of the NHL’s championship series.
Ty Conklin or Jussi Markkanen will have to start Game 2 Wednesday.
Roloson hurt his right knee in a pileup in his crease with the score 4-4 with about five minutes remaining in the opener Monday night, Conklin was sent in to replace him, and Rod Brind’Amour jumped on his first mistake to score with 31.1 seconds left to cap a furious comeback and give the Carolina Hurricanes a thrilling 5-4 win.
Afterwards, coach Craig MacTavish emerged from a gloomy Oilers dressing room to announce the worst.
”Our goalie’s not good,” said MacTavish. ”He won’t be back in the series.”
The Oilers now face the prospect of trying to become the first Canadian team to win the title since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 without the leading candidate for playoff MVP honours.
”I know we can, I feel very confident that we can, bounce back from it,” said MacTavish. ”Our goaltenders are capable of coming in here and playing well, both Jussi and Ty.”
It might be wishful thinking because Conklin, for one, certainly didn’t look up to the task on Brind’Amour’s winner. Conklin, who hadn’t played a post-season minute, stopped two shots after replacing Roloson before leaving his crease to go after a puck in the last minute. He backhanded it, it struck teammate Jason Smith’s stick, and trickled right to Brind’Amour. The Canes captain couldn’t believe his good luck as he slipped it into the open net.
”It was just a matter of flipping it into the net,” Brind’Amour said after his playoffs-leading 11th goal. ”You don’t get too many of those, but I’ll definitely take them.”
Conklin said he held onto the puck too long.
”I didn’t make the play quickly enough,” he said. ”It’s not a mistake I would normally make.”
He’d been inactive for weeks so it was unfair to blame him for the loss. It was his teammates’ failure to protect a three-goal lead that led to the loss despite a 38-26 advantage in shots on goal.
Brind’Amour and Ray Whitney scored two goals each and Justin Williams had one for the Hurricanes, who trailed 3-0 late in the second period. The Hurricanes have made a habit of comeback victories this spring, and they’d done it again.
Carolina equalled the biggest comeback in championship series history, becoming the sixth club to win a game in the final in which it trailed by three goals.
Chris Pronger, with the first successful penalty shot in championship series history, Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau and Ales Hemsky scored for the Oilers.
Roloson was hurt when Andrew Ladd, being pushed by Marc-Andre Bergeron, crashed into him.
”He was coming with a lot of speed,” Bergeron said of his attempt to contain Ladd. ”I tried to shut him off before he got to the net.
”Unfortunately, he ran into Rollie. Rollie was runner over like that a few times like that in the playoffs and he was always fine. It’s just bad luck this time. Obviously, it’s something we didn’t want to have to deal with.”
Canes goalie Cam Ward was outstanding. He made a win-saving stop of a Shawn Horcoff shot with three seconds remaining. At 22, Ward was the youngest goalie to start a championship series game since a 20-year-old Patrick Roy helped the Canadiens win the title in 1986.
”He definitely played outstanding hockey,” said coach Peter Laviolette. ”There were a couple of goals he had no chance on just based on redirects, and there were some that should have been in the net and weren’t because of his play.
”I don’t think a situation like this, being in the Stanley Cup final, fazes him.”
Brind’Amour started the Carolina comeback when he scored off a rebound at 17:17 of the second period.
”We were not panicking and we knew if we could pick it up we had a chance,” he said afterwards.
Whitney made it 3-2 at 1:40 of the third when he beat Roloson to the short side with a slapper from the circle to the goalie’s right.
Whitney tied it 3-3 off another rebound during a power play at 5:09.
Williams scored a short-handed goal at 10:01 after the puck hopped over Steve Staios’ stick blade at the Carolina blue-line to set up a Williams breakaway.
Ward then made one of his most spectacular save of the night when he slid to get his mitt in front of a Horcoff shot that was headed for the open side of the net.
”Just out of pure desperation I put my glove out and I was very fortunate to make the save,” he said.
Hemsky tied it 4-4 with a spectacular effort while Eric Staal served a high-sticking penalty. Dashing down the right wing, the speedy Czech cut across the front of the crease, pulled the puck to his backhand and stuffed it in at 13:31.
Roloson got hurt, Conklin coughed up the puck on Brind’Amour’s winner, Ward again robbed Horcoff, and 18,700 erupted in a victory celebration.
”My dad was probably having a heart attack,” said Brind’Amour, who also scored the winner in the Eastern final last Thursday. ”We’re fun to watch but that’s not the way you want to do it.”
The Hurricanes had dodged a bullet.
”We played terrible for two periods,” said Whitney. ”We left feeling very fortunate.
”We are not kidding ourselves. We’re not real pleased with the way we played.”
Notes: Edmonton was 1-for-7 and Carolina 1-for-5 on power plays … There have been 15 teams, most recently Tampa Bay in 2004, that rallied from a Game 1 loss to win the Stanley Cup … 26 of the 40 players in uniform were Canadians – 14 Oilers and 12 Hurricanes … Ward is from the Edmonton region and will be married there next month … The teams hadn’t met since December 2003 … Carolina has to re-sign Erik Staal, Justin Williams and injured forward Erik Cole this summer. To find the cash, it might let go recently acquired veterans Doug Weight and Mark Recchi, who can become unrestricted free agents July 1
Oilers lose Game One and Roloson