North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Surprise Ending

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Last night it seemed that the perfect ending was just about to happen and we’d witness the birth of a new legend in hockey – Eric Staal, who had played superbly all throughout the playoffs, had already scored two goals on Wednesday night when the game went to overtime.

It really seemed like a great story – young kid has a hat trick in the Cup Finals, including the Stanley Cup winning OT goal. It’s something that will go down in history and become a staple on ESPN Classic, at the very least.

But someone snuck in a surprise ending.

A few minutes into the extra frame, Fernando Pisani picked off a lazy pass by Cory Stillman and drove into Carolina’s zone (and right by Eric Staal, too) all alone and buried a shot into the netting behind Cam Ward – and the very second that Pisani had the puck, almost everybody who was watching knew what was going to happen. This was a bigger twist then the President getting killed on 24 and it came just as far out of left field. The storybook ending that we all thought was going to happen, Staal getting the Conn Smyth; Carolina erupting and the fight over the goaltending duties in Edmonton didn’t happen. And now we all have to go through this again on Saturday and maybe one final time on Monday.

Can the Oilers do it once more? Maybe – Cam Ward was showing cracks for the first time last night, letting four Edmonton goals (the most thus far this series) get past him and with the injuries to forward Doug Weight and defenceman Aaron Ward leave considerable holes for Carolina to fill.

Still, Jussi Markkanen is a bit of a wild card for the Oilers. He’s been great – and is still getting better – throughout the finals, but this is the same goalie who had just 15 wins this season. And although he’s improved (he’s gone from letting in five goals in game two to letting in just four in the next two games. But one wonders if he can keep up this level of play against the surging Carolina offence – much like how one wonders if Cam Ward is finally starting to play his age – he let in as many goals on Wednesday as he had in the last three games combined. Granted, both goalies are good, but both also seem to be playing well above their heads and these finals could just go to whatever team has the goalie that doesn’t break down first.

Still, Edmonton now has the momentum and is headed to their home arena – and I wouldn’t be surprised if this series goes to a game seven.

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Written by M.

June 15, 2006 at 2:05 pm

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