Oilers, Markkanen shaky in Game 2

Updated: June 8, 2006, 1:40 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Jussi Markkanen
Dave Sandford/Getty ImagesIt was that kind of day for Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen, who filled in for Dwayne Roloson.
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 Hurricanes.

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.

Markkanen didn't have to wait long to face action. He turned aside a long slap shot from defenseman Mike Commodore and another drive by forward Justin Williams before 30 seconds elapsed.

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 well."

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 months.

"At the same time he made a lot of saves for us. Hopefully, we can draw confidence from that."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press