At 2:31 of the first, Shawn Horcoff got the Oil out to a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal they'd scored since the 13:31 mark of the third period in game one. Exactly 69 minutes. Jaro Spacek fired a shot from the blue line, which appeared to go straight in. However, Horcoff had a very slight re-direction from the low slot, nudging it through Cam Ward's five hole. Ales Hemsky got the second assist. Even with the redirect, it was a shot that should have been stopped.
The remainder of the first, and the entire second period was kind of quiet. There were a handful of penalties to each team. Each side received some questionable calls, and in the end it evened out. I still don't think Macgeough should be out there. I'll admit I had a wrong preconception of him as a good ref. In game one he certainly proved otherwise. Although he wasn't horrible in game 3, he was less than "good".
About midway through the first, Justin Williams had a fantastic breakaway chance, but his attempt to go to the upper right corner of the net was foiled. Markkanen got just enough of it with his glove to prevent a goal, sending the puck over the net.
Rod Brind'Amour leveled the score at the 9:09 mark of the third. Cory Stillman worked behind the net, getting the puck to Brindy in the left circle. He attempted a shot, which was blocked by Jason Smith, but bounced right back to Brindy. He finally got a shot through, and it beat Markkanen high on the stick side. Stillman got the only assist, and extended his playoff scoring streak to 11 games.
With the period winding down, Ryan Smyth got the game winner on a somewhat controversial goal. Smyth weaved his way through a rather lax defense and went to the net. He took a shot that was initially blocked by Cam Ward, but the rebound glanced off Smyth, who was by now well inside the crease (practically inside the goal) and past Ward. Although there wasn't any significant contact with the goaltender, the argument was that Smyth interfered with the goalie's ability to defend his crease. Rule 78g:
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper's vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.After a bit of a review, the officials declared the goal to be good. Hemsky and Spacek with the assists.
Carolina can't feel too bad about that, though. Late in the second, Ethan Moreau seemed to have scored a goal. He had created a turnover deep in the Carolina zone, and took several point blank shots on Ward. Referee Mcgeough lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle. Just after the whistle, Moreau took another whack at it, sending it past Ward. Although the light went off and the horn sounded, the goal was immediately wiped off. If the puck was under Ward, it was only for a fraction of a second, and I guess that's what Mcgeough saw. No goal. It was a great break for Carolina on a really short whistle. One of many times that Mcgeough made questionable calls in this game. Also remember that in game one, he made some questionable calls, including the penalty shot play. I don't know how he saw the puck the whole time on that one, and lost the puck on this one.
All in all, Carolina wasn't terrible, but wasn't great. They had a load of scoring chances that didn't go that well. A few shots directly at Markkanen, a few bad shots, a few bad passes. Markkanen was amazing, though. The "save" on the breakaway was pretty nice, and he saw a lot of shots late in the third. On the other end, I don't think anyone can take anything away from Cam Ward either. He made some sizzling saves, and stayed very well focused in his homecoming.
All three goals were even, full-strength goals. Carolina killed off seven penalties, including 1:27 of five-on-three. Edmonton killed off five penalties. Neither team was really able to do much on their respective power play.
Although I didn't like the outcome, it really was a great game. Highly entertaining. Great goaltending on both ends. Good defense on both ends. And clean.
I watched the game at my friend Bill's house. He acquired a high-def projection system, and projected the game on his garage door. That was a lot of fun. I recommend it for everyone.
Game four will be Monday with an 8:00 puck drop. No matter what happens in that game, Carolina will still have "home ice". Edmonton, by the way, did a great job of using home ice to their advantage. They made the right "last change" line changes, ensuring that they always had the right personnel. This, frankly, is something that Carolina hasn't really used to their advantage so far.
One statistic definitely worth mentioning is that Rod Brind'Amour only won 37% of his faceoffs. Shawn Horcoff, on the other hand, was on fire. He won 61% of his, including three of his four defensive zone draws. I would expect those numbers to be closer to 50% for each guy in game 4. Something else worth noting is that Georges Laraque, after playing the role of villain in game 2, was only given 24 seconds of ice time in game 3. From the looks of the shift chart, he had two shifts of seven seconds each in the first period, and one ten-second shift in the second. Nothing in the third.
One question I have for Edmonton fans. This is a serious question. Why was Doug Weight booed so lustily by the Oiler fans every time he touched the puck? I was under the impression that he was a fan favorite when he was there and that he left without dishonoring the team. Is there something I don't know about that he did on his way out the door?
Game 4 Monday night. Have fun.