Start time approx 2020h Eastern; Edmonton, AB.
Laraque stays in, he didn't see much ice at all last game (24 seconds? ouch).
Keys for Edmonton: keep the offensive pressure up, make those Hurricanes dmen scramble. They're not the most mobile group in the world, so take advantage of it. Early speed, take advantage of the energy and noise that's created from the introductions and anthems. Take the body hard - Carolina's forwards aren't the biggest group in the world, although they're obviously not easily intimidated either. Traffic in front of Ward, especially since it seems to piss off the Carolina players - maybe they can get sucked into some retaliatory penalties. And finally, win-streak Markkanen with a .934SP, not the ZOMG WE NEED A GOALIE .885 Markkanen. Clearing the crease helps with that.
Cole got the dark blue correct this time. Torres smoked a Hurricane behind the Carolina red line, then the puck was cleared and shot back in, then Pisani levelled another 'cane, but the first shot came off Williams's stick (I think, the crowd was booing, so I'd thought Weight, who was circling - I still recognize his skating style).
Tarnstrom took a shot from the blueline with Smyth in front - just what they needed. Didn't go on net, but they had the right idea. Smyth got tangled up with Ward, who was standing above the top of his crease with Weight right there. Took 3 Hurricanes to stop Hemsky - but where was his puck support?
Heavy pressure in the first 5 minutes, Carolina can't seem to get the puck on their sticks in the Edmonton zone. Edmonton's having trouble actually getting a shot on goal though. Great shot block on Recchi. Markkanan mishandled a rebound and wound up just slapping it right up the middle - lucky clear. Torres is hitting somebody every time he gets them lined up, and Peca almost bowled Ladd over. Finally the canes were forced to ice it. 6.5 minutes in, not much with which to be displeased if you're an Oilers fan.
Spacek actually outsticked Weight to get at a loose puck, not something you see often. BG's already matched his icetime from game 3, I think.
Great rush out of the Edmonton zone with a backhand pass from Samsonov to Dvorak that had me moan, Dvorak's shot made me groan at the missed chance, and then Samsonov tipped it by Ward - just what the doctor ordered, 1-0 Edmonton. Quick penalty call off the ensuing faceoff though, Torres for tripping as he put Williams down. The way the PPs have been going, you have to wonder if they wish they could decline... then mid-sentence, Stillman hammered a one-timer by Markkanen shortside off a great saucer pass from Kaberle, 1-1. Sorry Jussi, that wasn't really your fault but Roloson would have saved that one. And nice going CBC, that was a PP goal and Torres is out of the box, yet they still show Carolina on the PP.
Hemsky driving, backhand pass behind him to... well, he tried to put it through two Carolina players to Smyth on the other side. Could have been dangerous, but there was a delayed penalty, so now Edmonton gets a chance. Terrible penalty by Ladd, well away from the play, to slewfoot Horcoff to the ice.
First minute of the PP gone, Edmonton's barely had a sniff - Carolina's being very effective at clearing the zone. Maybe Laviolette should just play 4 players all game? They blew it with about 20 seconds left, but Smyth missed the net. Edmonton miscommunicated, and blew most of the rest of the PP. As soon as the 5th man came back, Edmonton started dominating again. Murray actually outskated ex-teammate Ray Whitney, and Whitney hooked him a bit - Murray threw off the stick check, but Whitney got called anyway and now Carolina's back in their favourite defensive mode, on the PK with 7 minutes left. No threats by Edmonton, but Carolina had a near-dandy with 2 seconds left. That's OK, Edmonton's getting another chance with another hooking penalty to Whitney.
First play, Pronger put the puck right on Brind'amour's stick and it went back to Edmonton's zone. 1 shot on 3 power plays so far - Edmonton needs to do something different. Maybe they'll just draw penalties all game - 1:12 left in the first penalty and Aaron Ward put his stick into Samsonov's face. Carolina had better watch it, they can't stay good/lucky forever. Finally, another shot. Somebody got hammered into the boards from behind, kind of a dirty hit, but no penalty - so they'll call some hooking penalties that don't affect the play, and a weak high stick, but not somebody getting piled into the boards from behind? Oook then.
Sounded like there was some exciting action there, but I missed almost the whole penalty because my cable has apparently gone insane. Replay showed the puck going over Pronger's stick at the blueline and Hemsky making a nice defensive play on Whitney. Pronger had had a decent shot earlier, but the Carolina defencemen did a good job to get Smyth away from Cam Ward.
Edmonton's not laying off the body; Moreau filled Kaberle in on the boards, and Staal took some exception but nothing happened except some jawing. Why people keep thinking Edmonton needs an Avery-esque agitator I'm not sure; Moreau sure doesn't seem to have much trouble getting guys going.
Another weird penalty call; Stoll tripped Cullen and got called for it, despite Cullen tripping him right back. Can't say I'm *too* displeased with the calls so far, since they're a) in my team's favour, and b) technically by the book, but they're being pretty choosy about which are called and which aren't. And that's the first.
Haha, some Carolina player on the bench sniffed... something, then gave it to Mike Commodore who took a smell and recoiled in horror, then took another sniff like it was dirty sweatsocks and recoiled again, then gave it back. Now that's what I call comedy gold. While I typed that up, Carolina had some chances near the Oilers net on the PP, but Markkanen came up big and Pronger cleared a rebound that nobody really seemed to want.
Weight hit Hemsky behind the Oilers net and bounced off, then Carolina had a heartstopper of a chance, then Edmonton went away on a 3 on 1. Hemsky couldn't handle Smyth's cross-ice pass but got a shot off anyway, and Horcoff couldn't quite find the rebound. Back the other way, Carolina was offside.
Laraque and Moreau steamed in, then BG had to flip a pass over a sliding Kaberle and Moreau couldn't quite handle it so no shot. Pronger put a hand on Brind'amour as the Hurricanes came into the Oilers zone with speed. PP, Brindy had a fabulous chance and Markkanen made up for his earlier "Rolo would have had it" with a save worthy of Cujo or Fuhr in their primes. Another Carolina rush, and Staios somehow got a stick on the pass from Stillman to Brind'amour to break it up. Ah, Markkanen wasn't so hot earlier, but the puck stopped what he couldn't - still, he was coming across fast and forced the cane into a quick shot. That's ok, Markkanen made a tremendous save on Whitney, sliding and off his stacked pads. Looks like we got the .934 Jussi, not the .880.
Some more tremendous pressure from Carolina, and whatever they weren't doing in the first period, they're sure doing now. Horcoff's line seems to be having their way with the Carolina defence though. Dvorak's got to be the hardest working guy on the ice without a goal.
Retaliation: Stoll hit Hedican and threw him down, then Hedican suckerpunched him. For some reason they sent Spacek to the box too, or at least let him stay there for a while, then he came out. Ah, he would have had a penalty except the whistle had already gone? That doesn't make sense. Oh well, Edmonton PP. *finger twirl* Smyth just missed the open net on a good pass from Spacek - deflected it just wide. Blast from Pronger on the blueline with Smyth and Hemsky right in front, but the Carolina blueliner (Ward) nearly tipped it by the other Ward and Cam had to be fast to grab the rebound with the Oilers forwards right there. 8:40 left, PP killed off, but at least Edmonton had some chances.
7 minutes left, both teams have remembered how to play defense, although Markkanen tried to glove a shootin and dropped it, then fell looking for it - CBC say he's slow getting up but Edmonton cleared and I can't see. He seems to be ok though, as Carolina comes back with 6:15 left. Nice glove save by him shortly after; Horcoff's line nearly scores again, with Ward coughing up a huge rebound.
Finally, Carolina scores on one of their rushes, with Recchi picking the top corner as Smith and Pronger flubbed a clear and nobody could pick up Recchi in time on the opposite side of the ice. Staal's second assist, 2-1 Carolina.
Edmonton went right back on the attack, with first Peca's line coming out and then Murray's; Ward gave up another huge rebound, but the Oilers again couldn't do anything with it. He's giving them up, but at least they're to open ice. I get the feeling he won't be so lucky soon though; hopefully it's this game. Whitney and Greene made contact on the rush, looks like Greene grabbed him - not sure why that's a penalty and Laraque getting mugged on the rush wasn't, but hey, gotta even up the calls I guess. Jason Smith was trying to clear it, Williams shoved him, Smith dove (replay makes it look like it was more just followthrough on the clear), but Williams got the call against him. More evening up, I guess - again, if the call on Laraque wasn't made I'm not sure why that one was. Maybe the refs like to see goals, so they don't like power plays?
Hemsky coughed it up to Recchi, but made a good defensive play to come back, and then the Oilers promptly took a penalty - Pronger. He looks tired - big circles under his eyes. Maybe that's what happens when he gets pissed off at what he thinks is a chintzy call. (I didn't think it was that bad of a call, but anyway.) 4 on 3 for Carolina, period ends 2-1 Carolina.
Wow, Ron MacLean's really worked up with Colin Campbell - doesn't like the diving, doesn't like the puck over the glass rule. I agree with Campbell - there doesn't *seem* to be much more diving this season than previous. (MacLean thinks Smith blatantly dove - more replays... yeah, that was a dive. Can't blame him though.) I agree with MacLean though, the puck over the glass rule is crap. Make it be the same as icing. I'd save that for another post, but I'll likely forget, so... maybe later maybe not.
Edmonton starts the third with Greene and Pronger in the box, but Smyth and Horcoff getting in on Ward. Stillman went in on Markkanen, who Fuhr'ed it out of midair going side to side... man oh man, nice save. Jussi, I'm sorry for snarking at you about Rolo would have made that save, ok? Please don't kill me with a flying skate kick to the head... Edmonton's best pkiller was their goalie, as it needs to be.
Peca's line buzzed for a good solid minute, but when Samsonov finally got the puck out front, nobody was right there - Peca had been there, but he'd sluffed off to the side. Greene hammered Ladd and somebody's stick came up and hurt Ladd, but he looks ok - came back and hit somebody else. 15 minutes left.
13:35 left, Weight grabs Laraque's arm just as he's lining up some hapless Cane near the board, no interference call. What are the refs thinking this game? I mean yeah, Weight probably saved the guy's life (Whitney, was it?) but that's still interference. Horcoff's line had their way with the Carolina defence again - it's too bad they can't play 30 minutes a game, the way they're going now.
10:30 left... looks like the Carolina forward got his elbow up on Spacek on the forecheck, Spacek came back and clobbered Craig Adams, no calls on either. Oh, Staal hit him from behind - wtf are they doing, not calling those now? Is it only if your name is Laraque?
Kelly Hrudey thinks the Oilers can't come back, lacking in energy and body language not showing it. Well, they haven't been able to make the Carolina zone with speed this period, hard to argue with him - Torres isn't cannonballing around right now, for instance. Still, hopefully somebody tells Hemsky and Smyth about Hrudey's thoughts, they might be tempted to prove him wrong.
Horcoff got crosschecked from behind into the boards behind the Carolina net, not sure why that wasn't a penalty either, but I didn't see all of it - guess the refs have put their whistles away again. Markkanen made another nice glove save off the Hurricanes rush. 7:40 left, now it looks like Carolina *is* killing a penalty, complete with the lack of Oilers shots.
I don't see how Dvorak can't score - he does everything right, puts himself in the right position, works hard, hustles... he just can't seem to get shots on net, and when he does, the goalie's right there.
Carolina PP, Jason Smith got called for hooking. Chintzy call, but the refs have made it pretty clear all game that if your stick touches the other guy, or if your free hand might be waving in his direction, they're going to call it. So just ram him headfirst into the boards, I guess, unless your name is Georges.
Murray actually outskated somebody, and he and Dvorak couldn't quite connect - what a surprise. PP is over; as many Oilers chances as there were Hurricanes. CBC had a montage of "big hits" - yeah, there were a few there, but a couple of them were guys being run from behind. Sure, that's an example of how physical it was, but there were plenty of others to choose from, why those? Carolina calls the timeout with 2:35 left. Markkanen's gotta be thinking of coming out soon. 1:50 left, Horcoff's line out, and some more frantic action near Cam Ward; Carolina iced it with 1:37 left. Hm, Hedican's hurt, but they're letting him change anyway; he'd better not be on the ice for the rest of the game. Markkanen out; Dvorak's on - why? I'd have put Pisani out myself, not that it matters. Pisani = clutch 2006 playoffs, Dvorak = whiskey, as in, snakebite.
Why is it that when Edmonton pulls their goalie, they can never gain the offensive zone, but when they're up by a goal and the other team's got the 6th man on, they can never clear it? Game over, 2-1 Carolina, and it looks like I need to start figuring out how Carolina's colours will look on this weblog. I'm sure Edmonton can probably pull out another win, *maybe* even two, but not three, and not in a row. Tonight, I think we saw the second-last nail in a fine playoff run.