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Game 7 on Monday night!

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
One of the big stories on the night was the emergence of Edmonton's power play, scoring three goals which was better than their output in the entire series to this point.

"We were better last game. We moved the puck and started to force them into decisions," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish after the game.

Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette felt his team didn't quite have it tonight.

"We looked like we didn't have our legs, we didn't compete vey well in the battles, which is disappointing," he said. "We have a lot of veteran players in that locker room and a veteran defence, and we just seemed to be off a step, or maybe two."

Steve Staios was sent off for interference early in the game, putting Carolina on the game's first power play.

On the man advantage, Erik Cole, who drew into the lineup for the Hurricanes for the first time in three months, was crushed by Ethan Moreau. Edmonton then took the puck down the ice and had a three-on-one opportunity with Peca, Pronger and Murray but could not muster a shot on net.

Several minutes later, Todd Harvey crushed Aaron Ward in the corner as the Oilers continued to set the physical tempo.

Edmonton went on its first power play six minutes into the game and came close to scoring the game's first goal. On the first chance, Ryan Smyth couldn't get a handle on the puck at the side of the net to lift it over an outstretched Ward. The second good chance, Smyth, Hemsky and Samsonov playe da nice give-and-go and Smyth found Samsonov on the open side but he couldn't pull the trigger.

Carolina had a great scoring chance of their own with five minutes to play in the period. Jussi Markkanen dove out to puck the puck away from Ray Whitney just as he was about to break in alone on the Oilers netminder. Dick Tarnstrom made sure that the Hurricanes didn't take advantage of the Oilers' wandering netminder.

After one period, shots on goal were 10-3 in favour of the Oilers.

A Carolina penalty for too many men early in the second period led to the game's first goal. Hemsky's pass from the point found Pisani in the slot. Pisani spun around and backhanded the puck on Ward. The puck deflected off Glen Wesley's stick in front and beat Ward high.

Jarret Stoll almost doubled the Oilers' lead eight minutes into the period after rifling a wrister that Ward barely got a piece of with his glove.

Just before the midway point of the period, the Oilers did score again to make it a 2-0 game.

Pisani picked up the puck in the corner and fed Staios at the point. Staios slapped it on net and Torres tipped in home from the slot.

The Hurricanes called a timeout with 7:30 remaining in the second period. At that time, shots on goal were 21-3 in favour of Edmonton. The Hurricanes finally registered their first shot on goal in the period with just over five minutes to play when Justin Williams shoveled the puck in on Markkanen.

The Oilers' penalty killers stood tall in the final four minutes of the period, killing off an interference call on Dick Tarnstrom and then 1:39 of a Jason Smith minor to close out the middle frame.

After two periods, shots on goal were 21-7 Edmonton.

Early in the third period, Cam Ward absolutely robbed Radek Dvorak in what could be deemed the save of the series. Stoll, Samsonov and Dvorak came in on a three-on-one. Stoll fed Dvorak, whose shot was gloved out of mid-air by Ward just millimetres before it crossed the line. The play was quickly reviewed before being confirmed as no goal.

Several minutes later, Ryan Smyth scored to make it 3-0 Oilers with Ray Whitney in the box for holding. Smyth took a feed from Peca before breaking into the Hurricanes zone. His backhand from the slot beat Ward to give Edmonton a more comfortable lead.

Midway through the third period, shots were 10-3 Edmonton as they continued to attack the Hurricanes.

While shorthanded, Pisani created a turnover and was able to break in alone on Ward. Just as he was about to reach the puck, he was hooked from behind by Whitney to nix the Hurricanes power play and put Edmonton back up a man.

Edmonton struck for its third power play goal of the night with 6:55 to play in the third. Shawn Horcoff took a pass from Dvorak and coralled the puck in the slot before snapping it by Ward to make it a 4-0 game.

The Oilers must now quickly refocus for Monday night's winner-take-all Game 7.

"They're not here because they're wallflowers," MacTavish stated. "We know they're going to come out with their best game of these playoffs and it's up to us to combat that."

"We know that the power play is going to play a tremendous role in the next game," MacTavish said. "Whoever wins the special teams game on Monday will have a huge advantage."

NOTES: Hurricanes forward Erik Cole made a surprising return to the lineup for Carolina tonight after missing several months with a fractured vertebra. Doug Weight was out with an upper-body injury, creating the lineup opening... The Oilers went with the same lineup as Game 5... Pisani's goal moved him into the league lead with 13 in these playoffs. His assist on the Torres goal tied him with Chris Pronger for the team lead in multiple-point games these playoffs with seven.
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