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In Their Words: 2006 Stanley Cup Final, Game 1

Brind'Amour, Williams recall comeback, wild finish

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / Hurricanes.com

FOX Sports Carolinas is airing a series of Canes Classics, a collection of some of the most memorable postseason triumphs in Hurricanes history, beginning with the team's four wins against the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

Game 1 airs on Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Carolinas and is also available to stream on the FOX Sports GO app.


The National Hockey League made its long-awaited return to the ice in October 2005 after a work stoppage wiped out the totality of the 2004-05 season.

The game in 2005-06 looked much different than it did it 2003-04, thanks in large part to a number of rule changes and tweaks that opened up the game and allowed offense to flourish. It was a fun and somewhat unpredictable season - and who would have picked the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes to meet in the Final?

The Canes would have, of course, but not many others did. Carolina cruised to a 52-22-8 record (112 points), finishing atop the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference in what was the most successful regular season in franchise history.

The Oilers, meanwhile, grabbed the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 41-28-13 record (95 points) and took out Detroit (the top team in the league with 58 wins and 124 points), San Jose and Anaheim en route to the best-of-seven championship final.

Tweet from @CanesOnFSCR: "It was the very definition of electric."We're re-airing the @Canes' 2006 Stanley Cup Final victory starting tonight. @JohnForslund and @TrippTracy preview an incredible Game 1 performance.#CanesClassics pic.twitter.com/iQXJtw6VgO

A raucous house of 18,797 packed the then RBC Center for Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. It had been two years since Lord Stanley's Cup was last awarded, and the Canes were four wins away from the first championship in franchise history.

The Oilers spoiled the party early, though. Fernando Pisani netted his 10th of the postseason in the first period before Chris Pronger - on a penalty shot, no less - and Ethan Moreau stretched Edmonton's lead to 3-0 in the second.

Rod Brind'Amour: "I didn't remember we were down 3-0. I remember that year, that was a team that got down at times and we came back. We had a lot of big comebacks. There was never a panic in that group, knowing the way we played that we could come back. It's not ideal, but we've been here before. That's kind of the thought process."

Justin Williams: "We had a team throughout that year that made a living on comebacks. The firepower that was on that team made you feel like you were never out of a game. [Being down 3-0] was obviously not ideal but not insurmountable. That's what it was - just getting the next goal."

Just 54 seconds after Moreau scored, the Canes answered back. Brind'Amour potted a rebound off a Williams shot to get his team on the board with less than three minutes to play in the second period - and taking a 3-1 deficit to the locker room was a much preferable alternative to being down 3-0.

Williams: "I remember even saying, 'Let's get one before the end of the second.' Well, Roddy might have been saying that. I might have just been listening. He scored a lot of huge goals in that playoffs, starting with the first series against Montreal. Not shocking. We had the firepower to do it. 3-0 and 3-1 is actually a big difference, even though it's just one goal."

Brind'Amour: "When you're down three, that's a huge ask. Two is a huge ask, but it's doable."

The Canes emerged hungry and determined in the third period, and Ray Whitney trimmed the deficit to 3-2 just 1:40 in.

Brind'Amour: "We score early in the third, and now the game is right there. Now you've got the whole period to get one more. The interesting thing about when you're down is you never think about the other team scoring one. You're down 3-1, you've just got to get one and now you're right there. You're never ever thinking if they get one, the game's over. You're always on the hunt, and that's kind of how we were."

Whitney notched his second goal in a span of 3:29, this on the power play to even the score at three. Five minutes later, Williams raced down the ice on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Dwayne Roloson with a quick shot to put the Canes ahead by one, 4-3.

The back-and-forth action wasn't yet finished, though. With six-and-a-half minutes left in regulation, Ales Hemsky drove the net and scored a power-play goal to again tie the game at four. Just 30 seconds later, Andrew Ladd stumbled as he attempted to corral the puck and cut to the net. He was then upended by Marc-Andre Bergeron and collided with Roloson, knocking the stellar netminder out of the game - and, as it turned out, the series.

That shocking turn of events in an already mind-boggling affair left Ty Conklin to take to the crease for the final five-and-a-half minutes of regulation in a tied championship series game.

With a little less than 40 seconds left in regulation, Mike Commodore chipped the puck up the ice in deep behind the Oilers' net. Conklin retrieved the puck in the trapezoid - new to the game in the 2005-06 season - and a botched goalie-D exchange with Jason Smith resulted in Brind'Amour swooping in to backhand a loose puck into the empty net with 31.1 seconds left in regulation.

Cam Ward sealed the wild 5-4 win with a tremendous glove save on Shawn Horcoff with mere seconds left on the clock.

Somehow, some way, Game 1 belonged to the Canes.

Williams: "All this stuff was kind of new to me. I had never been past the second round. You're just trying to bank wins. You're trying to get four. There's not much else to it. It's obviously key to get the first one, but you expect to go in and play a seven-game series. When you expect to go in and play a seven-game series, I think you're better off mentally when you lose one. That was obviously a big win for us. We felt we were the better team before the series started."

Brind'Amour: "You don't look too far ahead. You know you've got to win four. The sooner, the better. It was nice to get one done, and then you move onto the second one."

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