Hurricanes win away from cup


The Associated Press
Carolina Hurricanes’ Mark Recchi gets a hug from teammate Eric Staal after Recchi scored against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals in Edmonton  Monday. The Hurricanes won 2-1.

AP National Writer

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Carolina Hurricanes are heading home in search of their first Stanley Cup.
They won’t have to start over, thanks to an intriguing mix of young and old.
Mark Recchi scored the winning goal in Monday’s 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. He’s 38 — a full 15 years removed from his only other championship.
Cam Ward had another strong performance in goal. He’s a 22-year-old rookie and might just win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP if Carolina finishes off the Oilers.
Cory Stillman scored Carolina’s first goal and helped set up the second with some nifty forechecking. He’s 32 and seems to be getting better with each passing season.
Eric Staal jumped up to knock down a popped-up puck, then made the pass that set up the winning goal. He’s a 21-year-old star-to-be and likely face of this franchise for years to come.
“That’s what it has been all year for this hockey club,” Recchi said. “I have been fortunate to come in and join it. The young kids they have are terrific. They respect the game.”
The Hurricanes got the split they needed in Edmonton and head home with a commanding 3-1 advantage in the series. Game 5 is Wednesday night in basketball-loving Raleigh, now poised to put a different kind of championship on ice.
“We’re looking forward to doing that on home ice,” Stillman said.
After Edmonton’s Sergei Samsonov and Stillman scored 29 seconds apart in the first period, the Hurricanes stunned the Oilers with a lightning quick play that began innocently enough.
Chris Pronger tried to clear the Edmonton zone, but Stillman reached out to get his stick on it. The puck popped up in front of the goal, where the 6-foot-4 Staal jumped up to knock it down with his glove, got control and sent a pass to Recchi at the side of the net.
“Good thing I am 8 feet tall,” Staal quipped. “I knew Recchs was kind of back door. I just tried to make a move and throw it back there to him.”
Recchi, acquired from Pittsburgh during the season to bolster Carolina’s offense, got off a perfectly placed shot under the crossbar that beat Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen with 4:04 left in the second.
“I play with a lot of energy and I play with a lot of passion,” Recchi said. “We’ve got our horses and I just follow behind and keep this thing going.”
Markkanen, making his third straight start in place of injured starter Dwayne Roloson, had another strong game after anchoring the Oilers’ 2-1 win in Game 3. The replacement goalie made 18 saves, several of them downright spectacular.
In the first period, Markkanen appeared to get the shaft of his stick on a shot by Rod Brind’Amour — just enough to send it off the crossbar. The Oilers goalie also turned aside Justin Williams with a brilliant glove save early in the third, the left hand coming out of nowhere to snatch a puck that was headed for the top right corner.
Ward’s 20 saves didn’t look as acrobatic as Markkanen’s — maybe because the rookie is playing so well that he makes everything look easy. His positioning was superb, he rarely gave up a dangerous rebound and Carolina could rest easy with its last line of defense.
Markkanen was nearly as solid. The Oilers were let down again by their ineffective power play, which failed to convert five chances — including a lengthy two-man advantage for the second game in a row — and dropped to 1-for-25 in the series.
“We’re not getting outplayed,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “They’ve just been more opportunistic on their chances.”
The Oilers pressed hard for the tying goal in the final minutes, even managing a good chance while Jason Smith was in the penalty box for hooking. Dick Tarnstrom broke into the Carolina zone and flipped a pass in front of the goal to fellow defenseman Steve Staios, who got a stick on it but tipped it wide of Ward.
The crowd cheered on the home team with deafening, alternating chants of “Let’s go Oilers!” and “Go, Oilers, go!” But Ward, an Edmonton native, wasn’t about to let another puck past him.
The young goalie bounced back from the disappointment of Game 3, when Ryan Smyth’s disputed goal with just over 2 minutes remaining gave Edmonton its lone win of the series. The Hurricanes thought Smyth interfered with Ward in the crease.
The Oilers scored again on Ward when Samsonov and Radek Dvorak teamed up on a slick give-and-go play less than 9 minutes into Monday’s game.
On the ensuing faceoff, Edmonton’s Raffi Torres got tied up with a Carolina player and was called for tripping. The Hurricanes wasted no time capitalizing on the power play, tying it on Stillman’s ninth goal of the playoffs.
Stillman extended his playoff scoring streak to 12 games and gave himself a chance for back-to-back titles. He won the cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.
“You’ve got to play with confidence,” Stillman said, “and I have that right now.”


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Mavericks thinking sweep as NBA finals hit Miami

MIAMI (AP) — They’ve switched cities, and soon they’ll change jerseys. Their gameplan, though, is likely to go untouched.
Dallas has already proven to be Texas tough at home.
On the road for the first time as finalists, the Mavericks are about to show if they are ready to be NBA champions.
With a defense that has somehow made Miami’s giant center Shaquille O’Neal — the league’s most dominant force — invisible, the Mavericks carry a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series into Tuesday night’s Game 3.


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Disappointing start for USA

AP Sports Writer

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Four years of preparation went awry in five minutes for the United States.
Having been routed, roughed up and run over by the Czech Republic in a 3-0 crusher Monday night, they need a tie against three-time champion Italy this weekend to have any realistic chance of advancing to the World Cup’s second round.
“It’s going to be hard, but it’s not over,” said Landon Donovan, one of several players singled out by U.S. coach Bruce Arena for poor play.
Jan Koller, the Czech Republic’s 6-foot-7 forward, scored five minutes in, and Tomas Rosicky added goals in the 36th and 76th minutes.
The United States managed one shot on goal and showed little of the spark that earned it an opening 3-2 upset over Portugal four years ago, when it advanced to the quarterfinals in America’s best showing since 1930.


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