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Hurricanes pound Oilers as rookie Ward earns shutout

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The kid looks like he's done it all before.
So do the Carolina Hurricanes, halfway home to their first Stanley
Cup championship after a dominating performance on Tobacco Road.

Cam Ward became the first rookie in 20 years to post a shutout
in the finals and the Hurricanes swept away Edmonton 5-0 in Game 2
Wednesday night, the Oilers looking downright miserable without
playoff star Dwayne Roloson.

Carolina is up 2-0 in the series and off to Alberta, hoping to
finish the job against a staggering team. Game 3 is Saturday night
in Edmonton.

"We're going to try to get a jump in Game 3," said Cory
Stillman, who scored a backbreaking goal seconds before the end of
the second period. "We've still got to win four games, and we're
going to try to do it as quickly as possible."

Ward turned aside 25 shots for his second shutout of the
playoffs and entered the record books as only the 11th rookie to
hold a team scoreless in the finals. Montreal's Patrick Roy was the
last to do it in 1986.

"That was a reflection of the team," Ward said. "They played
great in front of me. There were a lot of instances where we came
up with key blocks that probably would have been sure goals."

Indeed, he had plenty of help. The Hurricanes prevented 24 shots
from even getting to the 22-year-old goalie, hurling themselves in
harm's way with their skates, their arms, their legs -- anything to
send the puck away from the goal.

The Oilers didn't reveal their starter in net until Jussi
Markkanen led his team onto the ice for the opening faceoff -- the
first goalie in 45 years to make his first playoff start in the
finals. Roloson sustained a series-ending knee injury in Game 1.

After vowing to rally around their new goalie, the Oilers didn't
play with any sort of passion, especially after Stillman scored
with 2.4 seconds left in the second period to make it 3-0.

Edmonton finds itself in a huge hole going back to Canada for
the next two games. Carolina became the 30th team to sweep the
first two games of the best-of-seven series at home; the Chicago
Blackhawks in 1971 are the only team to blow such a lead, losing to
Montreal in seven games.

"A lot of us are trying to do too much," Edmonton coach Craig
MacTavish said. "We need a more predictable game from a lot of our
players."

The Hurricanes poured it on in the final period, getting every
break while the frustrated Oilers turned chippy.

Doug Weight appeared to kick in a deflected shot early in the
third and the referee waved it off immediately. But, after viewing
an overhead replay, it was clear that Weight managed to graze the
puck with a swipe of his stick as it was on the way to the net --
making it a legal goal.

The call was overturned, Carolina celebrated and the Oilers
fumed. Shortly afterward, Ethan Moreau threw a left-handed punch to
the face of Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley as the two came
together at center ice.

Georges Laraque delivered an even more flagrant hit, pummeling
Carolina's Andrew Ladd with a blow from behind in the closing
minutes to get tossed out of the game.

Maybe he was just mad at Ladd. The Carolina forward was the guy
involved in a collision with Roloson that left the goalie with a
severely sprained knee late in Game 1. Rubbing salt in the wound,
Ladd scored the first Carolina goal in Game 2 -- the puck deflecting
off the skate of Marc-Andre Bergeron, the guy who knocked Ladd into
Roloson.

Frantisek Kaberle made it 2-0 just past the midway point of the
second with a shot through Markkanen's legs, the only goal that
MacTavish blamed on his replacement goalie, who had not played
since March 1.

"I really thought Jussi played a fine game for us," MacTavish
said. "You don't win a lot of games, even if you get outstanding
goaltending, if you don't score any goals."

The clock was winding down in the second when Stillman delivered
the crushing blow. After Markkanen blocked a deflected shot,
Stillman flipped the rebound over the net, went all the way around
to get it himself and lifted his second try under the crossbar.

"Was it a backbreaker? Maybe it was," Stillman said. "I'm
sure it was hard for them to swallow with two seconds left."

The Hurricanes dominated the special teams, scoring three goals
on the power play. Edmonton was 0-for-6 with a man advantage.

"The five-on-five play is pretty even," MacTavish said.
"They're more opportunistic at this point in the series than what
we've been."

With Moreau in the penalty box, Carolina swarmed in front of
Markkanen until Mark Recchi got free in front to deflect the puck
past the shellshocked goalie. The Carolina fans spent the rest of
the game heckling Markkanen with chants of "You-seee! You-seee!"

MacTavish decided he was a better option than Ty Conklin, who
took over after Roloson was hurt and botched a play behind the net
in the final minute, allowing Rod Brind'Amour to stuff the puck
into an open net for the winning goal in Carolina's 5-4 victory.

The Hurricanes overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the opener --
matching the largest comeback in finals history -- and have now
outscored Edmonton 10-1 over the last 83 minutes of the series.

Suddenly, the Oilers look very much like a team that struggled
just to make the playoffs, not the squad that swept through the
Western Conference with three straight upsets to become the first
No. 8 seed to reach the finals under the current format.

Ward spent most of the regular season watching Martin Gerber
from the bench. When the starter struggled in a first-round series
against Montreal, the Hurricanes switched to their backup.

That change went a lot more smoothly than Edmonton's
Roloson-to-Conklin-to-Markkanen switch-off.

Ward has played like a seasoned veteran, giving up only one goal
in the series that he had even the remotest chance of stopping. He
improved to 13-5 in the playoffs, just one win shy of his
regular-season mark (14-8).

"It's a new beginning, a chance to start from scratch," Ward
said. "I'm just enjoying it. I'm surrounded by a group of
teammates who are making me feel right at home."

Game notes
Ward and Roy are the only rookies in the last 49 years to
have a shutout in the finals. Before that, it happened nine times
between 1922-57. ... Only three teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit
in a best-of-seven finals, no matter where they lost the first two
games. ... Carolina blocked 41 shots in the first two games.