Now, Cup finals will come down to momentum

Updated: June 18, 2006, 2:30 AM ET
By Barry Melrose | Special to ESPN.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Well, the Carolina Hurricanes played not to lose Wednesday night, and the result is a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup finals.

Michael Peca
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMichael Peca and the Oilers took advantage of the Canes' lack of shots in the third period and OT.

The Edmonton Oilers played their butts off and were the better team all night long. It was a great display of character and resiliency, especially when everyone in town is counting you out. Their power play improved and they got equal contributions from the entire lineup.

You could sense, in a way, that the Oilers were due. They were the better team in Game 1 and outplayed Carolina in Games 3 and 4. Wednesday, they took chances. They tried different things on the power play, like taking more shots from the wings and slot, not just relying on Chris Pronger from the point. Ales Hemsky was moving his feet and making plays. Fernando Pisani scored two goals, an offensive output we haven't seen from the Alberta native in some time.

The Oilers were also physical. Raffi Torres and Ethan Moreau were big contributors. Carolina's Aaron Ward and Doug Weight each got banged up in the game. Will they be OK for Saturday? That's a big question mark.

Now, there comes the test for the Hurricanes. Now, the Oilers have momentum. Carolina has to show the same courage and character Edmonton showed Wednesday night. There were positives for the Hurricanes and they have to build on that. Eric Staal had two goals and an assist. But the Canes always win by committee -- everyone has to contribute. I don't think you can point to their bench and say one guy has to play better.

We'll see how both teams respond in Saturday's Game 6, but I would not be at all surprised if this series returns to Carolina for a Game 7.

Barry Melrose, a former NHL defenseman and coach, is a hockey analyst for ESPN.

Barry Melrose

NHL studio analyst
Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose is an NHL studio analyst for ESPN.

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