Brind'Amour's goal with 31.1 seconds left lifts Carolina to Game 1 win

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- After a stirring comeback, the Carolina Hurricanes won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals with a gift of a goal.

Rod Brind'Amour scored off a flukey mistake with 31.1 seconds remaining when Edmonton's backup goalie botched an exchange behind the net, and the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Oilers 5-4 Monday night.

Ty Conklin had to take over in goal for Edmonton with just under six minutes remaining after Dwayne Roloson, the star of the eighth-seeded Oilers' improbable playoff run, was injured in a collision that knocked the net off its moorings.

Roloson, who had played every minute of the playoffs, is done for the series after injuring his right knee. Ty Conklin -- who played in 18 regular-season games -- might have to go the rest of the way.

He didn't pass his first test.

With overtime looming, Conklin went behind the net to play the puck on a seemingly routine play. But he appeared to cross up teammate Jason Smith with a backhanded pass, the puck deflecting off Smith's stick and sliding in front of an open net.

Brind'Amour scored his second goal of the night -- and he'll never get an easier one. Smith dove in a futile attempt to knock the puck away and Conklin was still coming around from behind the net when it crossed the line.

"It wasn't much that I did," Brind'Amour said. "I think there was a little mix-up about who was going to get it and obviously the goalie is behind the net. It was just a matter of flipping it into the net. You don't get too many of those, but I'll definitely take them."

Carolina's rookie goalie, Cam Ward, had another brilliant playoff performance after backing up Martin Gerber through most of the regular season. Ward made 34 saves, including the second of two remarkable stops on Shawn Horcoff at the side of the net with 3.8 seconds left.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Raleigh. Then, the series shifts to Edmonton for the next two games.

With two small-market finalists and an obscure cable network televising the first two games, the Edmonton-Carolina matchup was expected to draw minuscule television ratings.

Maybe a few more people will flip over after the Oilers and Hurricanes put on a thrilling display with all sorts of twists and turns.

Carolina matched the biggest comeback in finals history, equaling five other teams that overcame a three-goal deficit to win. Edmonton's Chris Pronger scored the first penalty shot goal in finals history. Carolina finally scored late in the second period, then strung together three rapid-fire goals in the third. Justin Williams put the Hurricanes ahead for the first time on a shorthanded breakaway goal with 9:58 remaining in regulation.

The Oilers weren't done, either. After Ward made a brilliant stop on Horcoff, flinging his body back across the crease to somehow get an arm on the puck, Edmonton tied it on a power-play goal by Ales Hemsky with 6:29 to go.

Roloson was hurt when Carolina's Andrew Ladd carried the puck into the Edmonton zone, cut across in the front of the net and was met there by Edmonton defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who unloaded a big hit from behind that drove Ladd into Roloson.

"It's a tough loss, but at the same time it's one game," Pronger said. "We can't dwell on it too much. We did a lot of good things out there. We got off to a great start and played well after a long layoff."

Conklin or Jussi Markkanen will have to take over in goal for Roloson, a trade-deadline acquisition who was a major reason Edmonton became the first No. 8 seed to advance to the finals under the current playoff format.

"We've got two guys that we've got a lot of confidence in Jussi and Conks," Pronger said. "They haven't played that much in the last two or three months, but at the same time, I've seen them at practices and they've been working hard and trying to stay sharp. They'll do a good job."

The Oilers are in the finals for the first time since 1990, when they finished off a run of five Stanley Cup titles in seven years with the vestiges of the Gretzky-Messier-Coffey-Fuhr dynasty.

After that 16-year absence, Edmonton had to sit around for eight more days before starting the finals. The Oilers got plenty of rest after needing only five games to beat Anaheim in the Western Conference finals.

Carolina had a much tougher time on the Eastern side, rallying in the third period of Game 7 to beat the Buffalo Sabres and advance to its second Stanley Cup finals in four years.

The Oilers looked fresher at the start. Edmonton native Fernando Pisani knocked in his team-leading 10th goal of the playoffs after Carolina failed to clear the zone in the first period.

Pronger made it 2-0 on a first-of-a-kind goal in the second.

After Niclas Wallin was called for touching the puck in the crease with his glove, the Edmonton defenseman was awarded a penalty shot, the ninth in finals history and first since 1994. He became the first to score, beating Ward on the stick side.

The Oilers were cruising when Ethan Moreau scored off a deflection with less than 3½ minutes to go in the second period.

But Brind'Amour sparked the comeback less than a minute later when he scored Carolina's first goal.

Ray Whitney scored back-to-back goals early in the third to tie it up. Then, with Edmonton on the power play, Williams scooped up a loose puck along the boards and swept in on a breakaway that gave Carolina its first lead.

There was a college football-like atmosphere outside the arena, which only seemed appropriate -- North Carolina State's football stadium is right next door. Fans wearing shorts, flip-flops and long-sleeved hockey sweaters took advantage of the warm, sunny evening to put on a boisterous display of tailgating before they headed inside for Game 1.

And a few especially knowledgeable fans showed up in green-and-blue Hartford Whalers attire -- a nod to Carolina's roots. The franchise started out in the old World Hockey Association, joined the NHL along with Edmonton and two other teams in 1980, then moved south in 1997.

This is the first time two former WHA teams are playing for the Stanley Cup.

Game notes
Carolina D Glen Wesley took two shots off his right leg during an Edmonton power play late in the first and hobbled to the bench. Unable to put any weight on the leg, he had to helped to the locker room, but in true hockey form he returned to the ice before the period was done. ... The Carolina fans cheered loudly after the Canadian national anthem, making it clear there would be none of the ugliness that marred the Oilers-Sharks series. Some San Jose fans jeered Canada's anthem after booing was heard during "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Edmonton.