Game 6: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 2000h Eastern.
I missed writing about game 5, mostly because we got stuck in traffic coming home (some idiot killed himself in his Viper on the Expressway, and unfortunately almost managed to take a mother and daughter with him) and I had about half a litre too much of sparkling wine - I wasn't in much condition to type. I caught the game though, and it was a doozy.
Thus, on to game 6. No beer for me, we'll see how a lack of alcohol intake on my part affects the Oilers. (Linda doesn't think what I do makes any difference - foolish woman!)
One lineup change, sez Scott Oake: Harvey in for Winchester. Did Winnie play that poorly last game? Or just... not that well?
ObBooingMention: didn't hear anything but cheering during the Star Spangled Banner, but it sounded like half the arena sang along with O Canada - usually you get a few, but I've not heard that much before.
Horcoff's line started out, with Harvey on the RW in Winchester's / Hemsky's place. They gave way to Peca / Torres / Pisani against J. Thornton's line. Nice, the graphics showing the lineups spelled Samsonov's name incorrectly. I missed who the Sharks d pairings were - apparently they only dressed 5.
Stoll's line remains together; be interesting to see if Hemsky and Harvey change spots like Hemsky and Winchester had been.
Laraque hammered Preissing for the first big hit of the game - looks like the Oilers are coming out hard again. Matt Greene tripped Smith into the boards and the first penalty goes to Edmonton. Nils Ekman ran Roloson inside the crease (so quitcherbitchin Ron Wilson) and there went the PP after 40 seconds.
Samsonov's stickhandling well, good passes to Staios and Horcoff. Puck came back into Edmonton's end on Thornton's stick, good rush by the Sharks, dangerous chance as the puck came out in front and Roloson had to make a reflex save.
Short Edmonton power play, Toskala looked sharp on a good low shot from Bergeron into traffic.
Pisani had a wraparound attempt, Torres knocked the puck off a Shark d's stick and got a nice shot away then got pounded - no penalty on the play, good hit by the Sharks.
Ekman goes to the box again, but he took Pronger with him - 4-4 with 13:30 left in the first. Horcoff and Samsonov went out, Samsonov had the puck in the slot and he made a pass attempt to Horc, who almost managed to redirect it - looks like Samsonov and Horcoff have some good chemistry going. Against Joe Thornton's line, no less.
Looks like Mike Peca got a haircut and a shave: he looks kind of funny now. Split the defence on a good rush, Toskala made a nice save with some help from his defencemen. That's the Peca we'd been hoping to see from last August on. Faceoff in the Oilers zone, Peca won the faceoff, beat Hannan to the puck, and went in alone on Toskala and roofed it. I guess he's a bit lighter with less hair. 1-0 Oilers.
Right after that, Peca and Pisani had another chance, but short-shifted it.
Interesting, looks like Joe Thornton is now centering Cheechoo and Niemenen - they were all over the Oilers in their own end, some good saves by Roloson after some great passing by the Sharks. Oilers came roaring back with their own first line, and some pretty good end to end action.
The Oilers had a good chance in the Sharks end on a giveaway, then Marleau (damn your eyes!) and Mark Smith went away, and Smith plowed Roloson, then got Staios all over him. No call. Hm. They argued Staios tripped him in - I don't know, Smith didn't make much of an attempt to avoid Roloson.
Peca and Stoll went in, Stoll and ... 44? went down, and Stoll took a holding penalty. BS, Ehrhoff hauled him down as he was going - they both should have gone. (Hrm, who are the refs? Doesn't MacTavish have something against Mark Joanette, says he calls it too tight?)
Dwayne Roloson lost his mask on the 5-3 sequence, Joe Thornton passed the mask back to him and Rolo gave him a nod "thank you". Some more good passing by the Sharks, looking a bit dangerous, but no great chances. Just as Spacek came back on the ice, Roloson made a great reflex leg save to keep the PK in it - and San Jose never had a sniff after that. CBC says 5 shots on goal on the 1:40.
Right after that, Pisani and Moreau broke for the net - very dangerous rush, Toskala made a good save. Hannan's sure taking some abuse, Hemsky (!) hammered him into the boards behind the net. Pisani went back on the ice and smoked Preissing - 2 for boarding. Funny, that looked *exactly* like the non-call on the hit on Horcoff a couple games ago, Preissing turned to chase the puck.
Thornton's line got nothing done on the PP, so they sent out Scott Thornton and Ville Niemenen - Mike Peca made Kyle MacLaren look like an idiot at the blueline, then just went away and got half a shot away, which Toskala almost managed to put in the net for him. Anybody still think Peca was a gross mistake, along Oatesian lines? Yes? You should watch more hockey. Funny, Lowe's been attacked this season for his trades, who are some of the key players of these playoffs? Roloson, Peca, Pronger. I think Lowe's done ok.
Kelly Hrudey: if you want your players to block shots, you need to have done it yourself - sorry, disagree, Ken Hitchcock had no problem getting his Stars to do it.
Second period started out a bit more slowly... as soon as I typed that, Roloson made a great save and Ville Niemenen (back with Scott Thornton) almost banked it in off the Oilers defenders.
Edmonton actually got the first PP, as Mike Peca drew a penalty from Mark Smith - hm, kind of a dive by Peca to draw an evener-upper. Hemsky got into a bit of a scrap in front of the net on the subsequent PP. Edmonton's PP isn't getting much going either though - lots of jumpy pucks.
Ryan Smyth got sent away on a breakaway, got a little hook and got the shot away - Toskala made a good save, Smyth looked for the penalty shot but has to settle for a PP instead.
On the PP, Hemsky made a good pass to Stoll, who just missed with a one-timer. Hemsky's playing the half-boards again, passing across to either Smyth or Stoll. Smyth's doubleshifting on the PP. Not much else going on the PP though, and the teams are a combined 0-2 jillion this game. CBC replay showed the puck was wibbling a bit as it got to Stoll.
Heh, Garrett made a funny: "if you don't hear anything and it's at home, you're in trouble," as Roloson sat on a puck he hadn't been sure was under him.
Torres made a nice little hook to trip up Rissmiller, and San Jose's back on the PP. I kind of have to wonder if the Oilers really want to win this in Game 6? Of course, I think they did the samet hing against the Wings in the first round, and playing like poop worked for them last game.
I kind of have to wonder why Ron Wilson keeps with the same PP units, same strategy - it's not working, clearly. Niemenen seemed at first a good way to nullify the PP, but that almost worked - of course, the Sharks had a good chance while I typed that... Spacek's doing well. Then Horcoff had a *great* chance on the breakaway, couldn't make it go past Toskala. Torres had a good chance once he came out of the box - I hope we don't look back on those two missed chances (+ Smyth's) as the turning points in the game. The Sharks better buy Toskala a beer after tonight, that's for sure - he's bailed them out several times now.
I think that was Hannan that Horcoff blew by: not a great game for him.
Hemsky's forechecking hard - he wants to win bad. Maybe he's tired of 4th liners passing him for his spot on the #1RW. On the other hand, he's doing well with Samsonov and Stoll now, so what the hell.
Stoll took another penalty (no, ref is Rob Shick, not Joanette) - hm. Not certain that was a good call, but they're trying to keep sticks down, so fair enough. Roloson made a beauty save with Cheechoo on the doorstep. Next sequence, Cheechoo just missed setting up Ekman... and another near breakaway for Smyth, but he couldn't do anything with it under heavy checking. Sharks hit the post - Matt Carle. Does Joe Thornton know how to backcheck? He basically stood there after he coughed the puck up.
Right after the whistle, Niemenen took down Ryan Smyth. Nice. 1-0 still after 2.
So far, Spacek's been pretty invisible, despite his (I'm assuming) usual #3/4 icetime. Not much PP time for the Oilers though, that's usually where you see him (missing the net). Looks like Niemenen and Scott Thornton are trying to get the rook Matt Greene to bite - The Other Thornton wound up with the penalty though. If Edmonton can score on the power play... crucial. Replay showed Thornton's penalty came from a crosscheck to Bergeron's back, so I bet he *was* trying to bait Greene into an offsetting penalty.
Speaking of Spacek, he hit the net on the point shot, but nobody really in front and the rebound came out. Bergeron pinched and Horcoff and Pisani sent Michalek away, and that pretty much killed the PP. Pisani came back to take away the shot. Neither team's power play has been great this game. Yeah, San Jose had 5 shots on one, but that was a 5 on 3.
Smyth outmuscled Hannan to the net - is Hannan tired / hurt? Or is he missing the old school rules?
San Jose gave Edmonton another chance on the power play - Preissing was forced to haul down Horcoff before he got away again. 2 LWs on Edmonton's #2 unit - Torres and Samsonov with Horcoff, Spacek and Pronger. Toskala made a good save on Torres as the Sharks fell down a bit in their own zone. Bergeron's playing Spacek's spot on the RHS - ah, Spacek was just on long enough for Pronger to get a quick breath I think. Edmonton's PP again didn't get a lot done, a couple of good chances but no real good scoring threats. Right after though, Moreau had a good rush.
Roloson got away with a trip on Joe Thornton (see, I can be fair). Now San Jose are icing the puck like mad: hey, guys, Edmonton only gets away with it because they 0wn you on the faceoffs. Not that I mind.
10 minutes left. Ethan Moreau got 4 shots off 2 faceoff wins in a row, but they were all blocked.
9 minutes... good pinch by Spacek, then he almost gave the puck away in his own zone. Puck went in deep, Harvey had a good hit behind the net, the puck came out, Smyth and Horcoff had whacks and the puck bounced off the end boards (weird), out front, and Horcoff put it away from the slot. Harvey made a diving play to get the puck in in the first place. Hughson is getting drowned out by the crowd now, but the Oilers are a bit on their heels as the Sharks go desperate.
Stoll on the bench trying to work something out as Torres gives the Sharks their 7th power play of the night. Somehow Marleau couldn't put the puck away as Roloson lost his stick and blocker. Cheechoo had a wicked shot with about 6:05 left - good save by Roloson. They killed the power play, then 4 minutes left, Horcoff and Smyth went away, Horcoff hit the post as Toskala scrambled.
Pronger made a bit of a lazy clearing attempt, puck went right to a Shark who had an ok chance. Shortly after, Ethan Moreau had another breakaway - the 7th for the Oilers of the game, says Hughson. (I was just wondering if that was some kind of playoff record for the Oilers... at least this year, it's got to be. The Sharks are giving up the offensive blueline a lot.)
This is the point during the regular season where I'd be getting extremely nervous: they always seemed to be able to cough up even 2-0 leads with a couple-three minutes left.
Ryan Smyth gave them another PP. Ron Wilson has a choice: pull Toskala and let the Oilers shoot at the empty net on the PK, or leave him in and try to score a quick goal?
He pulled Toskala, and Pisani just missed the empty net. Now the Sharks are set up 6-4, J Thornton made a good crossice to #15 and Roloson was right there, with 15 (Michalek?) and Marleau right there. Edmonton got the puck deep with 1:40 left, Peca and Stoll killed some time deep in San Jose's zone but didn't get a sniff at the empty cage. San Jose set up, but couldn't get it done and Pronger just missed the empty net. Play got stopped - couldn't even hear the whistle, the crowd is going so nuts.
Sign in the crowd: Toskala vista baby! Heh. 8 seconds of play after the whistle, wow.
Good defensive play to keep the Sharks out of the offensive zone for the last 35 seconds of Smyth's penalty... Ryan Smyth just can't resist an empty net, he shot and missed, icing with 18 seconds left. Next time he just banked it out off the faceoff.
And Edmonton's off to the Conference Finals. Somebody give Peca and Roloson harpoons, cos they're Shark killers.
What Edmonton did right: almost everything. Great, fearless defensive play; outstanding goaltending.
What Edmonton did wrong: too many penalties.
What San Jose did right: played hard. Goaltending was good enough this game to keep them in it.
What San Jose did wrong: couldn't pull the trigger on the PP, I don't think they were physical enough this game.