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'Canes, Oilers Meet in Game One Tonight in Carolina

Tuesday, 05.30.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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\'Canes, Oilers Meet in Game One Tonight in Carolina

When the Edmonton Oilers acquired high-scoring defenseman Chris Pronger after the lockout, he was seen as a key in getting back to the playoffs. The addition of a 36-year-old journeyman goaltender has now allowed them to play for hockey's ultimate prize.

With Dwayne Roloson in net, Edmonton meets the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

After seeing Ty Conklin, Michael Morrison and Jussi Markkanen all struggle in net, Edmonton acquired Roloson on March 8 from Minnesota for a first-round draft choice and a conditional pick. But Roloson didn't make the best first impression on his new team, allowing 13 goals in losing his first three games.

Playing for the Wild under Jacques Lemaire, Roloson was part of a rotating goaltender system with Manny Fernandez. In a meeting with new coach Craig MacTavish, Roloson said he needed to get back to playing regularly to be at his best.

"I told him I had only played three games since January and it was going to take me some time to play the way I know how to play," Roloson said. "He said, 'We've got 20 games and that's all we have to worry about, to get the playoff spot."'

Roloson's 2.42 goals-against average and .905 save percentage were the best among Edmonton's goalies, but he managed only an 8-7-4 record - still good enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

He has started every playoff game, backstopping Edmonton to an upset of Stanley Cup favorite Detroit. Roloson then shut down San Jose's high-scoring duo of Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo before helping to defeat Anaheim in five games.

"Our goaltending is well documented," MacTavish said. "It's been exceptional."

Edmonton has advanced farther than any eighth seed since the NHL adopted the current postseason format in 1994, but Roloson has not been the only reason for Edmonton's unexpected success.

Pronger led the Oilers with 13 postseason assists and is tied with Shawn Horcoff for the team lead with 17 points. Edmonton native Fernando Pisani, an 18-goal scorer during the regular season, has a team-high nine in the playoffs.

"I wouldn't feel that we're overachieving," said left wing Ryan Smyth, who led the Oilers with 36 goals in the regular season. "I just think we've got some well-rounded depth on our hockey team and it's just a matter of getting an opportunity once you get in the playoffs, and we're making the most of it right now."

Carolina goaltender Cam Ward also has made the most of an opportunity. His rookie season was spent as a backup to Swiss Olympian Martin Gerber.

The postseason, however, has belonged to the surburban Edmonton native.

The 22-year-old Ward was the Hurricanes' first-round selection in 2002 after Carolina's loss to Detroit in five games in its only other Stanley Cup appearance. He recorded 14 regular-season wins as a rookie, but has played like a seasoned veteran as the second-seeded 'Canes dispatched Montreal and New Jersey before defeating a scrappy Buffalo team in seven games.

Ward, 11-5 with a 2.07 GAA in the postseason, is expected to get the start from head coach Peter Laviolette. That would make Ward the youngest goalie to start a finals game since Patrick Roy with Montreal in 1986.

Laviolette said the first reports he got about Ward from his assistant coaches and the team's minor-league club in Lowell, Mass., was that the youngster had some special qualities.

"The word was that his demeanor was very calm. He didn't get rattled very often," Laviolette said. "And he came up and he's been like that all year, regardless of the situation or the circumstances. It's been the same."

Carolina also boasts the league's leading playoff scorer in Eric Staal. Though he was held off the scoresheet in the final two games of the series against the Sabres, the 21-year-old center has scored 20 points - all coming in a 15-game points streak.

Earlier in the regular season, Carolina added veteran depth on offense by picking up center Doug Weight from St. Louis and Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh in separate trades. Recchi won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991, but the 35-year-old Weight is making his first finals appearance.

"I came in and just didn't want to disrupt anything," said Weight, who played with Edmonton from 1992-2001. "These guys were a great team before, and I told everybody I'm here to fit in and become a cog in the wheel."

While Carolina has more recent experience in Stanley Cup play, Edmonton has a wealth to draw upon. General manager Kevin Lowe, coach MacTavish and assistants Charlie Huddy and Craig Simpson combined to win 17 titles, most coming with the Oilers' teams led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in the 1980s.

The Oilers are playing for their sixth Stanley Cup and first since 1990 when they defeated Boston. Only Montreal (23), Toronto (13) and Detroit (10) have won more championships.

Edmonton and Carolina share roots in the World Hockey Association, when the Oilers and Hartford Whalers were among four teams absorbed by the NHL in 1979. But the Oilers and 'Canes have not met since Carolina posted a 3-2 road win in December 2003.

Monday's game also marks the Oilers' first visit to Raleigh since a 1-1 tie in November 2001.

Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday in Raleigh.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Oilers - 95 points, 8th seed; beat Detroit Red Wings 4-2, Western Conference quarterfinals; beat San Jose Sharks 4-2, semifinals; beat Anaheim Mighty Ducks 4-1, finals. Hurricanes - 112 points, 2nd seed; beat Montreal Canadiens 4-2, Eastern Conference quarterfinals; beat New Jersey Devils 4-1, semifinals; beat Buffalo Sabres 4-3, finals.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Pisani, 9 goals; Pronger, 13 assists; Pronger and Horcoff, 17 points; Georges Laraque, 27 PIM. Hurricanes - Rod Brind'Amour, 9 goals; Staal, 13 assists and 20 points; Justin Williams, 30 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Oilers - Power play: 19.8 percent (19 for 96). Penalty killing: 88.5 percent (101 for 114). Hurricanes - Power play: 25.8 percent (22 for 85). Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (77 for 92).

GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Roloson (12-5, 1 SO, 2.22 GAA); Markkanen (NR). Hurricanes - Ward (11-5, 1, 2.07); Gerber (1-1, 1, 3.53).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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