With Fox Sports Carolinas’ re-airing of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final set to conclude with Game 7 tonight, there isn’t a better time to revisit the night in which the Hurricanes clinched the franchise’s lone title. After a 4-0 drubbing in Edmonton in Game 6, the Hurricanes returned home losers of two straight, facing a winner-take-all Game 7.
If the mounting pressure of the situation affected the Hurricanes, it didn’t show early in the game. Just a minute into the contest, Edmonton has trouble advancing the puck, perhaps due to some nerves of their own. Shawn Horcoff and Steve Staois each receive poor passes and struggle to advance through neutral ice.
Staois attempts to gain the red line and put the puck in deep to allow himself and his defensive partner Jaroslav Spacek to change, but Erik Cole, at the end of his own shift, stymies Staois and forces a turnover.
Matt Cullen picks up the loose puck and races into the offensive zone and dances arounds a diving Spacek to generate the game’s first high quality offensive chance.
From there the Hurricanes' trio of Cullen, Mark Recchi and Andrew Ladd are able to go to work on the tired Oilers defensmen.
Cullen and Recchi execute a takeover as they cycle below the goal line. Recchi attempts a quick backhand pass out front to Ladd, but the puck ricochets out to the point.
With all five Oilers packed below the tops of the circles, Aaron Ward is able to creep down and step into a blast that beats Edmonton goaltender Jussi Markkanen. As can be seen in the still image below, Markkanen had virtually no sight line on the puck, with Ladd, Cullen and three Oilers all blocking his vision.
The Hurricanes would carry the one-goal lead into the second period.
Early into the second period Cole, who returned to the Carolina lineup from a broken neck in Game 6, speeds around Spacek and draws a penalty sending Carolina to their third power play of the night.
Just seconds into the power play the Hurricanes would strike again.
Shawn Horcoff beats Rod Brind’Amour cleanly on the faceoff, but Brind’Amour pursues the puck. Oiler captain Jason Smith opts to wind up for a slap shot clear of the puck rather than a hard wrister off the glass. The slapshot wind-up provides just enough time for Brind’Amour to get his stick on the puck, slowing the clearing attempt enough that it can be held in by Cullen.
Cullen is able to neatly move the puck past Horcoff and onto the tape of Cory Stillman. Stillman makes a quick read and nice pass to find Frank Kaberle sliding in from the point.
Kaberle’s shot deflects off of Smith who opts to lie prone on the ice, hoping to let Markkanen only worry about the top half of the net. Markkanen is unable to react in time to the change in direction off of Smith’s hip, and the puck beats him five hole.
The Hurricanes would enter the dressing room after 40 minutes with a two goal lead and just a period away from capturing the Stanley Cup.
But the Oilers were determined not to go down without a fight. Just one minute into the third, winger Raffi Torres puts a brilliant shot from a bad angle off of Cam Ward’s far pad, generating a huge rebound. Rem Murray gets a chance at it, which Ward stops, but Fernando Pisani beats both Eric Staal and Recchi to the net and deposits the second rebound.
Seeing he had teammates driving the net, Pisani shoots for a rebound which seems to surprise Ward. Glen Wesley does a nice job to prevent Murray a clean look at the net, but Pisani fights through a weak Recchi stick check to elevate the puck over Ward’s glove hand.
On first glance the Pisani goal looked like it might have been goaltender interference, but upon replay it was clear the puck was in the net before Pisani ever made contact with Ward.
With their lead cut in half, Carolina attempted to hang on and get to the finish line. With just over three minutes to play, Torres again was driving down the left wing wall, this time working on Mike Commodore. Torres again shoots far pad to generate a rebound and with Bret Hedican leaving his feet, Pisani once again appears to have a grade-A chance in the crease.
This time, Ward is able to get across and make the save, at least in part due to a fortunate bounce.
Ward kicks out another rather juicy rebound, but the puck bounces into Pisani’s skate, preventing him from getting his stick on the puck. Unable to shoot the puck into the gaping net, the best Pisani is able to do is propel it forward, into the sprawling leg of Ward.
Ward’s desperate save preserved the Carolina lead and not long after Carolina would face a defensive zone draw with just over a minute to play and an empty net at Edmonton’s end of the rink.
The Oilers win the draw, but Chris Pronger holds onto the puck for too long, allowing Staal to get a stick on the puck and creating a loose puck battle along the boards. Hedican wins his battle against Pisani and Brind’Amour wins his against both Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky, propelling the puck back to Staal.
Staal begins to skate up ice and sees that Pronger is headed to cut off the open winger, Justin Williams. Staal decides to hold onto the puck for an extra second, forcing Pronger to respect Staal’s skating lane and turn back towards him. This creates just enough space for Williams, who then receives the pass and goes on to ice the game.
The Hurricanes would close things out without trouble in final minute and capture the Stanley Cup, leaving us all with one more memorable gif: