Stayin' Alive!


The Associated Press
Edmonton Oilers' Fernando Pisani (34) scores the game-winning goal in overtime against Carolina goalie Cam Ward during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.

Oilers keep things going by beating Carolina 4-3 in overtime

AP National Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When Carolina made a mistake in overtime, the Edmonton Oilers couldn’t have picked a better guy to wind up with the puck.
Fernando Pisani picked off an errant pass at the blue line, skated in all alone and fired a shot over Cam Ward’s glove, the puck ripping the back of the Hurricanes’ net.
Pack up the Stanley Cup. The finals are going back to Alberta.
Pisani scored his fourth game-winner of the playoffs — but never one bigger than this. The first short-handed overtime goal in finals history gave the Oilers a 4-3 victory Wednesday night and denied the Hurricanes a chance to celebrate an NHL title on home ice.
“He’s such a great breakaway player,” teammate Michael Peca said. “He has got a lot of variety when he comes in there, and he’s a scored a lot of big goals for us in these playoffs.
Now, it’s on to Game 6, which is Saturday night in Edmonton.
The Hurricanes still lead the series, 3-2, but the Oilers refused to buckle when facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs — even after Steve Staios was sent to the penalty box for dragging down Mark Recchi at 3:03 of overtime.
Just 28 seconds later, Pisani struck for his second goal of the game and the first short-handed overtime goal in finals history.
Carolina’s Cory Stillman, a star of the playoffs, flubbed a cross-ice pass for Eric Staal as the Hurricanes set up a rush. Pisani picked off the puck, took off on a breakaway and beat the 22-year-old Ward to the top right corner.
“It happened so quick,” said Pisani, who scored two goals on the night and leads the teams with 12 in the playoffs. “I kind of took a quick look and saw that he was over the blocker’s side and just shot it in the top half of the net.”
The Oilers are hanging tough and defying skeptics who expected them to fold quickly after starting goalie Dwayne Roloson sustained a series-ending knee injury in Game 1.
With backup Jussi Markkanen playing another solid game — his third in a row — the Oilers are still alive.
Stillman blamed himself for letting the Oilers force another game.
“We knew we had a chance and, you know what, I screwed it up,” he said.
Amazingly, the Hurricanes lost the game on the power play, which has given them a huge advantage in the series. Carolina has converted eight of 33 chances with the man advantage, including all three of its goals in Game 5. Edmonton is 2-of-32 on the power play, but scored the winner while short-handed.
Staal scored his first two goals of the finals for Carolina, which went to the trouble of freezing a gold dollar under center ice for good luck.
Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth spotted the coin and dug it up during the morning skate, but the Hurricanes apparently stuck another one just under the ice before the game, “like a dog burying a bone,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish quipped.
“Maybe we’ll plant a loonie on Saturday,” he added, referring to a good-luck charm that worked for Canada in the 2002 Olympics.
Carolina, a franchise that was born in the old World Hockey Association as the New England Whalers and moved south in 1997, is willing to settle for winning hockey’s most treasured prize on the road.
“Everybody is upset, obviously,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “But it’s one game. We’ll wake up tomorrow, go back to work, go back to Edmonton.”
If the Oilers — the first No. 8 seed to reach the finals under the current playoff format — can win again at home, the teams will return to Raleigh for a decisive Game 7 on Monday night. Edmonton is trying to become only the second team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals.
This one was played after the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto moved through Raleigh, dumping up to 8 inches of rain and flooding a major shopping mall a few miles from the RBC Center.
But the storm tapered off and Carolina’s fans were able to do their usual tailgating outside the arena, whipping themselves into a frenzy by the time they got inside — only to have the Oilers score on the first shot.
Pisani got a stick on Chris Pronger’s slap shot from the blue line, deflecting it past Ward only 16 seconds after the opening faceoff. That sparked a wild first period, with the Oilers grabbing a 3-2 lead and the teams combining for more goals than either of the previous two games in Edmonton produced.
Both teams tightened up considerably during the final two periods of regulation. Staal scored the tying goal midway through the second, and the teams combined for only seven shots on goal in the third.
But the Oilers controlled the overtime, putting seven shots on Ward.
The last one beat him.


Late goal lifts relentless hosts

By The Associated Press
Germany kept coming and was about to run out of time.
The World Cup hosts had hit two crossbars and been denied repeatedly by Poland goalie Artur Boruc. A scoreless tie appeared imminent.
Then, Oliver Neuville slid in the winning goal in second-half injury time Wednesday night, a low shot from close range after a right-wing cross from fellow substitute David Odonkor. It sealed Germany’s first win over a European team at a major tournament since it won the 1996 European Championship by beating the Czech Republic in the final.
“It was a bit lucky, but it was more than deserved,” Neuville said. “I should have scored even before.”
Miroslav Klose and captain Michael Ballack had each just hit the crossbar. Klose headed a cross off the bar in the 90th, and Ballack hit the rebound onto nearly the same spot.


Mixed results early for 'Lefty'

MAMARONECK (AP) — Phil Mickelson began his quest for a third straight major championship Thursday with both a bogey and a brilliant sand save during the first five holes of the U.S. Open.
The winner of last season’s PGA Championship and this year’s Masters played almost a dozen rounds at Winged Foot in the months leading up to the Open. After analyzing the severely sloping greens, he put a new 64-degree wedge in his bag to deal with the tough greenside shots he figured he’d face.
With half the field on the course about halfway through the morning round, only four of 78 players were under par. They included Thomas Bjorn, who was in the threesome with Mickelson and hit two fabulous shots over the first five holes to get to 1-under.
Davis Love was 3-over after two holes, a bad start for the man who won the last time a major was contested at Winged Foot — the 1997 PGA Championship. Vijay Singh was even through seven. Tiger Woods, making his first tournament appearance since the Masters, had a 1:25 p.m. tee time.