RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jussi Markkanen stumbled behind the net and
then nearly fell in his crease.
Everyone expected the Edmonton Oilers' new No. 1 goalie to be
rusty. Why his teammates were just as shaky is anyone's guess.
Markkanen went from the shadows to the spotlight in the Stanley
Cup finals Wednesday night as he replaced injured goalie Dwayne
Roloson, but the Oilers were steamrolled 5-0 by the Carolina
Now they'll return home to Edmonton and try to climb their way
out of a 2-0 hole.
Markkanen went behind the goal to play a puck in the first
period and banged into the glass in the process. On Carolina's next
dump in, he reached far to his right to stop the puck from getting
behind him and around the boards. He got it, but then tripped on
his skates as he retreated into position.
Sitting out since March 1 can do that to a goalie. He allowed
one goal on eight shots in the first period, two on 10 attempts in
the second, and the final two goals on eight shots in the third.
"You can't fault him on any of those goals, except maybe the
second, and it was a pretty good shot," coach Craig MacTavish
said. "I thought he played fine. He handled the puck, and normally
that's an indicator of a goaltender's confidence level."
If Roloson had been in there for this one, MacTavish said he
would've been pulled before the finish.
Following two days of mystery, Markkanen was revealed as
MacTavish's choice to step in for Roloson, who was knocked out of
the series after playing Edmonton's first 17 playoff games and the
opening 54 minutes of the finals.
Ty Conklin came in cold with Game 1 tied 4-4, and soon after
entering he and teammate Jason Smith flubbed a puck behind their
net. Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour pounced on it and scored into
an open net with 31.1 seconds left.
MacTavish said he decided right away that Markkanen would take
over for the rest of the series. The lasting vision of Conklin's
gaffe certainly didn't help the American goalie's cause.
The third shot he faced came at the end of a 2-on-1. When Andrew
Ladd's shot hit the skate of Edmonton defenseman Marc-Andre
Bergeron, Markkanen was beaten and Carolina had enough offense to
hold serve at home and put more doubt into the minds of the Oilers.
"I felt fine," Markkanen said. "I felt good from the first
minute and had a couple of saves. Obviously, it didn't work out
Roloson was never considered an elite NHL goalie but he was
still a better option than anything Edmonton had at the trade
deadline. The Oilers gave up a first-round pick to get him and then
rode his fine play in the postseason all the way to the finals.
Ever since the Game 1 loss, his teammates spoke of how hard
Markkanen and Conklin were working even though neither had played
in weeks before this series. Their words said they were confident,
their actions spoke otherwise.
Midway through the first period, Shawn Horcoff lost control of
his stick and had to chase it down as it slid back into his zone.
With 3 minutes to go in the frame, leading goal scorer Fernando
Pasani seemed to have a clear shot in front. Instead of letting the
puck fly, he skated behind the net and then passed it off for a
bad-angle attempt by a teammate that didn't reach the net.
They finished with 25 shots on Cam Ward but never really tested
the Hurricanes rookie as their deficit increased.
Compounding the problem was Edmonton's lack of discipline that
gave Carolina 10 power plays that were converted into three goals.
"We kind of abandoned him when we continued to take
penalties," forward Michael Peca said of Markkanen. "The last
thing you want to do is to continue to give a team more
opportunities to try and score on a guy who hasn't played in four
"At the same time he made a lot of saves for us. Hopefully, we
can draw confidence from that."