EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) - Shiny streamers drifted down from the rafters. A chunk of raw Alberta meat sailed over the glass. The Edmonton Oilers mobbed their third-string-turned-starting goalie as the crowd chanted, "We want the cup!"
It felt like a championship celebration.
One more win and the Oilers can really get excited.
Edmonton's magical postseason run is heading all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, pushed along by a new group of playoff stars who are proving to be worthy successors to Gretzky, Messier & Co.
Hometown boy Fernando Pisani scored another goal and tough guy Raffi Torres deflected in one of his own, sparking the Oilers to a 4-0 rout Saturday night that wasn't that close.
Edmonton evened the best-of-seven series at three games apiece and moved to the brink of a historic comeback. Only three teams have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim the cup. Only one, Toronto in 1942, has overcome a 3-1 hole to win it all.
"I think we got them right where we want them," Torres said, "but at the same time we can't get overexcited out there because they are that dangerous."
The Hurricanes, who were one timely goal away from celebrating a championship just a few days ago, didn't look very dangerous in this one. Not even the return of Erik Cole, playing for the first time since be broke a vertebra in his neck 3 1/2 months ago, did much to inspire a team whose large contingent of 30-somethings suddenly look very, very old.
"We need to get rid of this game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We have a lot of veterans players in that locker room and a veteran defense. We just seemed to be off a step, maybe two."
As the horn sounded, someone tossed a piece of Alberta red meat onto the ice - a new playoff tradition in Edmonton that was borrowed from octopus-tossing fans of Detroit. The scoreboard flashed an endearing message as the fans filed out of the season's final game in Edmonton.
"Bring It Home."
Next stop, Tobacco Road. Game 7 is Monday night in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes were ready to celebrate there on Wednesday, returning home just one win away from their first Stanley Cup.
But Pisani scored the first short-handed overtime goal in finals history to win Game 5, forcing the NHL to pack up its prized hardware and ship it to Alberta for Carolina's second crack at the title.
The Hurricanes whiffed again, getting outshot 34-16 and totally worked over by the younger Oilers, who barely made it into the playoffs and then became the first No. 8 seed under the current format to reach the championship round.
Pisani and Torres are doing their best to join Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and all those stars who led the Oilers to five Stanley Cups in seven years, a run that ended in 1990 and quickly fell apart as small-market Edmonton struggled to compete against wealthier U.S. teams.
Pisani, who scored a modest 18 goals during the regular season, has 13 during the playoffs. After a scoreless first period, he put the Oilers ahead with a power-play goal just 1:45 into the second.
Ales Hemsky threw the puck in front of the net to an unchecked Pisani, who wheeled around with a back-hander from the slot that likely would have been blocked by Carolina goalie Cam Ward. But Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley instinctively stuck out his left skate, the puck changed directions and wailed over Ward's left pad.
"It seems like I'm in the right spot and the right time in those situations and the puck just happens to go in," Pisani said, making it sound so simple.
Carolina still didn't have a shot in the period when Torres gave Edmonton a two-goal cushion.
The freewheeling left winger has spent most of the series running around looking for someone in red to hit, delivering the crushing blow that knocked Hurricanes center Doug Weight out of Game 5 and probably out of the series with an injured shoulder.
This time, Torres burned Carolina with a deft offensive move, slipping in front of the net while Steve Staios lined up a slap shot from the point. Hurricanes defenseman Frantisek Kaberle tried to tie up Torres, but he managed to get his blade on the puck for another deflected goal.
Ward, the 22-year-old rookie who spearheaded Carolina's run to the finals, didn't get a chance to hold up the cup in his hometown, in front of his season ticket-holding parents in Section 102.
The youngster did come up with perhaps the best save of the entire playoffs early in the third period to keep Carolina alive.
The Oilers broke in three-on-one and worked the puck beautifully, making three perfect passes before Radek Dvorek wound up with a wide-open look at the goal. Somehow, Ward stretched back to make a stunning glove save right at the goal line, tumbling upside down into the posts but keeping the puck from going in.
Edmonton wouldn't let up, though.
Smyth - who scored a disputed goal with just over 2 minutes left to win Game 3 and kept the Oilers from possibly going down 0-3 - finished off the Hurricanes with 16:56 remaining.
On the power play, he swept into the Carolina zone, cut sharply to the left to leave behind a pair of Hurricanes and backhanded a shot over Ward's right shoulder. Horcoff added another power-play goal, the Oilers suddenly looking deadly with the man advantage after going 1-of-25 through the first four games.
The celebration was on at raucous Rexall Place. Nothing could be finer for the Oilers than one more win over Carolina.
As for the Hurricanes, they're trying to figure out a way to prevent a total collapse.
"What are the options really?" Laviolette said. "There's one game left for the Stanley Cup, and it's in our building. There's no place we would rather be."
Jussi Markkanen, the third-string goalie who didn't even dress for Game 1, wasn't tested much in his first playoff shutout. Still, it's improbable to believe that the Oilers and their replacement goalie are just one win away from the cup after the way this series started.
Edmonton blew a three-goal lead in the opener and lost starting goalie Dwayne Roloson to a knee injury. Markkanen suited up for Game 2 and the Oilers were blown away 5-0.
Now, it's all tied up.
Notes: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on hand to cheer on the Oilers, even though he from Calgary - home of Edmonton's bitter rival, the Flames. ... A sign of Carolina's disarray: The Hurricanes were twice penalized for too many men on the ice.
|PPG - Fernando Pisani (13) Backhand shot - ASST: Ales Hemsky (11), Jaroslav Spacek (10)|
1 - 0 EDM
|Raffi Torres (4) Tip-in - ASST: Steve Staios (5), Fernando Pisani (4)|
2 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Ryan Smyth (7) Backhand shot - ASST: Michael Peca (5), Jaroslav Spacek (11)|
3 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Shawn Horcoff (7) Snap shot - ASST: Radek Dvorak (2), Dick Tarnstrom (2)|
4 - 0 EDM
|Steve Staios Interference against Eric Staal|
|Bret Hedican Roughing against Jarret Stoll|
|Bret Hedican Roughing against Raffi Torres|
|Fernando Pisani Hooking against Josef Vasicek|
|Andrew Ladd Too many men/ice - bench|
|Glen Wesley Roughing against Ryan Smyth|
|Cory Stillman Hooking against Jaroslav Spacek|
|Jaroslav Spacek Diving against Cory Stillman|
|Bret Hedican Tripping against Shawn Horcoff|
|Dick Tarnstrom Interference against Matt Cullen|
|Jason Smith Interference against Kevyn Adams|
|Ray Whitney Holding against Dick Tarnstrom|
|Andrew Ladd Too many men/ice - bench|
|Matt Greene Interference against Ray Whitney|
|Ray Whitney Hooking against Fernando Pisani|
|Matt Cullen Roughing against Raffi Torres|
|Raffi Torres Too many men/ice - bench|