In the 2006 Stanley Cup Final -- the first after the work stoppage -- the Edmonton Oilers
and Carolina Hurricanes
found themselves locked into a riveting series that ultimately went the distance. The Oilers, who came into the series with a rich history and five Stanley Cup championships, were matched up against the Hurricanes, who were set for their most important series in franchise history after moving from Hartford to Raleigh less than a decade earlier.
Edmonton put together a masterful playoff run, as Ryan Smyth
, Michael Peca
and late-season addition Dwayne Roloson
enabled the Oilers to reach the Cup Final. On the flip side, Carolina's memorable playoff run was defined by its veterans, as captain Rod Brind'Amour
, along with teammates Bret Hedican
, Glen Wesley
, Doug Weight
and Ray Whitney
had played a combined 78 NHL seasons without winning the Cup.
However, the trend for the Hurricanes' veterans would change in Game 7 of this Cup Final matchup, as Aaron Ward
and Frantisek Kaberle
paced Carolina to a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. But as they had all series, Craig MacTavish
's Oilers never quit. With their backs against the wall, goaltender Jussi Markkanen
limited the damage, and after Fernando Pisani
lit the lamp just over a minute into the third period, Edmonton was back in the game.
But the rest of that period was dictated by rookie netminder Cam Ward
, who protected the Canes' 2-1 lead by stopping 22 shots on the night. Ward's brilliant performance was complemented by a late empty-netter by Justin Williams
to send Raleigh into a frenzy and Carolina to a 3-1 victory in Game 7. The Hurricanes' first Stanley Cup championship came full circle, as the veteran Brind'Amour finally hoisted the cup after 16 seasons in the League with tears streaming down his face, thanks largely to the 22-year-old Ward, who took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.