Stillman calls pass a 'boneheaded mistake'

Updated: June 15, 2006, 11:00 AM ET
By Lindsay Berra | ESPN The Magazine

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Cory Stillman's intentions were good.

The Hurricanes were on the power play, which was 2-for-4 on the night and more potent than that number shows.

Fernando Pisani
AP Photo/Gerry BroomeFernando Pisani's winner was the first short-handed overtime goal in Stanley Cup finals history.

Eric Staal, who had chipped the puck up the left boards to Stillman from below the left circle in the Hurricanes' zone, had already scored two goals in the game. And it started just like any other rush on the power play. So, naturally, Stillman looked to return the puck to Staal, who was heading up ice at full steam.

But forechecking Oilers forward Ethan Moreau got his stick on Stillman's, turning what would have been a crisp cross-ice pass into a lazy one.

"I made a bad pass, plain and simple. I should have went up the wall with it," Stillman said. "It was on the power play and I tried to hit Staal and that was my fault. We were coming, it was a tie game, I knew we had a chance and I screwed it up."

Just as Staal was crossing the blue line, the second Oilers forechecker, Fernando Pisani, chipped the puck away from Staal.

"We turned it over and they scored, that's pretty much it," Staal said. "He was coming at me hard and I didn't see him until the last second. I needed to make a play and I didn't. Cory can try to take the blame, but it's my fault, as well. I just didn't see [Pisani] coming."

Skating alone into the slot, Pisani put a roof-top shot over the left shoulder of Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. It was Pisani's second goal of the game. It was also the first shorthanded overtime goal in the history of the Stanley Cup finals.

"It happened so quickly. It was in my pants and I threw it down and took a quick look," Pisani said. "I saw that [Ward] was kind of over to the blocker side and I just shot it in the top half of the net."

Pisani's winner came at 3:31 of the first overtime. At that time, Ward had already made six saves and Carolina had no shots on goal.

"We moved the puck around well on the power play," Stillman said. "It's been a difference in hockey games and it should have been the difference in the hockey game again [Wednesday]. We just gave the momentum back. Now, it's for us to go out there and play well and not make a boneheaded mistake like I did."

When the goal light went on, the Oilers bench erupted.

"We had a really strong third period. We really had a sense that we were starting to turn the tide and the momentum in the game and in the series and we needed that goal," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "That's why you saw the reaction that you did from the bench. We know that goal puts us right back into it."

And it puts the Hurricanes, who will get their second opportunity to close out the series on Saturday, on an 11 a.m. flight back to Edmonton.

Lindsay Berra is a writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Lindsay Berra is an avid CrossFitter and a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on twitter @lindsayberra.

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