2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs

2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the National Hockey League began on April 21, 2006, following the 2005–06 regular season. The sixteen teams that qualified, seeded one through eight from each conference, played best-of-seven series with re-seeding after the conference quarterfinals. The Conference Champions played a best-of-seven series for the Stanley Cup

The finals concluded on June 19 with the Carolina Hurricanes winning the Stanley Cup, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the final series four games to three. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.

While the 2005–06 NHL season introduced a shootout to break ties after 5 minutes of 4-on-4 overtime, the Stanley Cup playoffs retained their traditional format of unlimited 20-minute periods of 5-on-5 sudden-death overtime to break ties.

The Western Conference made history in the first round when all four series were won by the lower-seeded teams. The eighth and lowest seeded Edmonton Oilers proceeded to win the conference and participate in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Playoff seeds

After the 2005–06 NHL season, a total of 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings were the Presidents' Trophy winners with the best record at 124 points (58 wins, 16 regulation losses, 8 overtime losses), while the Ottawa Senators won on the last day of the regular season to earn the Eastern Conference regular season crown.

Eastern Conference

#Ottawa Senators - Northeast Division and Eastern Conference regular season champions, 113 points
#Carolina Hurricanes - Southeast Division champions, 112 points
#New Jersey Devils - Atlantic Division champions, 101 points (46 wins)
#Buffalo Sabres - 110 points
#Philadelphia Flyers - 101 points (45 wins)
#New York Rangers - 100 points
#Montreal Canadiens - 93 points
#Tampa Bay Lightning - 92 points

Western Conference

#Detroit Red Wings - Central Division and Western Conference regular season champions; Presidents' Trophy winners, 124 points
#Dallas Stars - Pacific Division champions, 112 points
#Calgary Flames - Northwest Division champions, 103 points
#Nashville Predators - 106 points
#San Jose Sharks - 99 points
#Mighty Ducks of Anaheim - 98 points
#Colorado Avalanche - 95 points (43 wins)
#Edmonton Oilers - 95 points (41 wins)

Playoff Bracket

RD1=Conference Quarterfinals
RD2=Conference Semifinals
RD3=Conference Finals
RD4=Stanley Cup Finals
group1=Eastern Conference
group2=Western Conference
RD1-team01=Ottawa Senators
RD1-team02=Tampa Bay Lightning
RD1-team03=Carolina Hurricanes
RD1-team04=Montreal Canadiens
RD1-team05=New Jersey Devils
RD1-team06=New York Rangers
RD1-team07=Buffalo Sabres
RD1-team08=Philadelphia Flyers
RD1-team09=Detroit Red Wings
RD1-team10=Edmonton Oilers
RD1-team11=Dallas Stars
RD1-team12=Colorado Avalanche
RD1-team13=Calgary Flames
RD1-team14=Anaheim Mighty Ducks
RD1-team15=Nashville Predators
RD1-team16=San Jose Sharks
RD2-team03=Carolina Hurricanes
RD2-team04=New Jersey Devils
RD2-team01=Ottawa Senators
RD2-team02=Buffalo Sabres
RD2-team05=Anaheim Mighty Ducks
RD2-team06=Colorado Avalanche
RD2-team07=San Jose Sharks
RD2-team08=Edmonton Oilers
RD3-team02=Carolina Hurricanes
RD3-team01=Buffalo Sabres
RD3-team03=Anaheim Mighty Ducks
RD3-team04=Edmonton Oilers
RD4-team01=Carolina Hurricanes
RD4-team02=Edmonton Oilers

tatistical leaders


"GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; +/– = Plus/Minus; PIM = Penalty Minutes"

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (7) Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens had struggled throughout the beginning of the season, prompting GM Bob Gainey to fire Coach Claude Julien. Gainey took over behind the bench and posted a 23–15–3 record.

Though the Carolina Hurricanes were disappointed to lose the race for the Eastern Conference regular-season crown to Ottawa, commentators believed they might have actually gained an advantage from that fault. They faced a seventh-seeded Montreal Canadiens team they had beaten each game in the regular season. Though the Canadiens had since traded goaltender Jose Theodore, Carolina's fast puck-possession game was expected to roll over the Habs easily.

However, with Carolina goaltender Martin Gerber battling a then-undisclosed stomach ailment, the Canadiens beat the Canes in Game 1 in Raleigh, 6–1, as Cristobal Huet continued his late-season hot streak. After three quick Montreal goals early in Game 2, Carolina coach Peter Laviolette made what would prove to be a fateful decision, switching in 22-year-old rookie backup Cam Ward for Gerber. Though Ward yielded a regained Carolina lead in that game and which they lost 6–5 in the second overtime, Laviolette stuck with him going into Montreal even with Habs fans waving brooms, signifying a possible sweep.

Carolina prevailed in a 2–1 overtime win in Game 3, with Eric Staal scoring the game winner. During the game, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu took an inadvertent stick blade in the eye from the Hurricanes' Justin Williams from behind as both players lunged for a puck in the Carolina slot. The incident went unpenalized, but Koivu's series was over. In Game 4, Williams scored the game-winning goal in a 3–2 win to tie the series.

The final two games were tight-checking games, but Montreal had lost the mental advantage gained over two wins in Raleigh; the Canes took Game 5 in front of their home fans, 2–1, then returned to Montreal to close the series, 2–1, on a long, fluttering, tipped shot by Cory Stillman over Huet's left shoulder at 1:19 of overtime.

The Canes would continue their dominance, en route to winning their first ever Stanley Cup. Canadiens GM Gainey would relinquish his coaching duties, and give the reins to Guy Carbonneau.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers

Craig Mactavish's Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002–2003 season. It came down to the final week to determine who would be in, and it turned out to be the Oilers who sneaked in ahead of the Canucks.

After Red Wings winger Kirk Maltby scored two goals including the winner in double overtime in Game 1, the Oilers were able to respond by winning Game 2, 4–2. The series moved to Edmonton tied 1–1. Jarret Stoll provided the game-winner in double overtime in Game 3, giving the Oilers a 2–1 series lead after the Red Wings had appeared to score in the first overtime, but had the goal waived off. The Red Wings responded with a Game 4 4–2 victory to tie the series.

Back in Detroit, the Oilers jumped out to a 3–0 lead in the second period of Game 5. Brendan Shanahan closed the gap to 3–1, and Henrik Zetterberg added his fifth goal of the series to pull Detroit within one, but Edmonton held on to take a 3–2 series lead. Returning to Edmonton, the Oilers found themselves trailing 2–0 after two periods. Fernando Pisani tied the game with two goals, his fourth and fifth of the series, before Detroit reclaimed the lead. With 3:53 to play, Ales Hemsky tied the game on a controversial power-play goal which was reviewed for several minutes, questioning whether it was kicked into the goal. The goal was counted after it was determined that no kicking motion was made. Hemsky subsequently provided the game-winning goal with 1:06 left in the third period.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

The 4–5 matchup in the West pitted the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, the first playoff meeting between the two teams. Nashville had dominated much of the season on their way to the fourth seed in the conference, while San Jose rallied back from an early-season slump all the way to the 5th seed, thanks to a November trade for Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins that resulted in Thornton winning the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring. Linemate Jonathan Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals. The teams split their regular season series, with both of San Jose's wins coming in overtime.

Both teams came into the series with alternate goaltenders. After Sharks starter Evgeni Nabokov stumbled through most of the regular season, backup Vesa Toskala earned the spot as playoff starter with his impressive play during San Jose's stretch run to clinch a playoff spot. Nashville's star goaltender Tomas Vokoun would be diagnosed with a blood disorder in early April that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season, forcing backup Chris Mason to become Nashville's goaltender for the playoffs.

The Predators won the first game at home, 4–3, with four power-play goals, three of them coming in the first period. In Game 2, San Jose scored three first-period power play goals from Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and Mark Smith. Toskala earned a shutout on the Predators in a 3–0 victory.

The series went to San Jose for Games 3 and 4, but the Predators' tendency for penalties continued to be taken advantage of by the Sharks. In Game 3, a short-handed goal by Kimmo Timonen gave the Predators an early lead, but San Jose bounced back with four unanswered goals, two of them by Marleau and one on the power play by Steve Bernier, en route to a 4–1 San Jose victory. In Game 4, Marleau scored a hat trick, with two of his goals coming on the power play (and another by Smith scored right after another Nashville penalty expired). San Jose won the game, 5–4, as the series changed back to Nashville for Game 5. Unfortunately for Nashville, a Paul Kariya goal was not enough to combat power-play goals by Marleau and Bernier in a 2–1 victory for San Jose in Game 5, giving the Sharks the series.

Western Conference Semifinals

(5) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers

Game 1 was a muddled, penalty-filled battle. Edmonton took a first-period lead off a Jaroslav Spacek power-play goal. Patrick Marleau scored one goal (raising his playoff-leading total to eight) and assisted on another, leading the Sharks to a 2–1 win. Game 2 was also a 2–1 San Jose victory, with Joe Thornton scoring the game-winning goal on a power play in the second period.

The site changed to Edmonton for Game 3, and the Sharks and Oilers engaged in a triple-overtime match, the longest playoff game in the postseason to date, before Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff finally ended the game with a goal giving the Oilers a 3–2 win. Edmonton came back from an early 3–1 deficit in Game 4 and scored five unanswered goals late in the game - including three in the final period to force goalie Vesa Toskala from the game - to win, 6–3, and to even the series, 2–2.

In San Jose, Game 5 was the first time that a road team won a game in the series, the result being a 6–3 Edmonton victory. The teams entered the third period with Edmonton up 2–1, having killed off six penalties in the first and second periods. Twelve seconds into the period, Shawn Horcoff of the Oilers managed to put in a short-handed goal past Vesa Toskala making the score 3–1. Shortly after, the Sharks scored their first power-play goal in three games with Christian Ehrhoff scoring 44 seconds into the period. Less than two minutes later, Jonathan Cheechoo scored another goal to tie the game, 3–3. However, the Oilers answered back with Fernando Pisani scoring his second goal of the game. The Sharks took six penalties in the third period, which proved very costly. Jarret Stoll quickly capitalized on a Cheechoo interference call and then Ryan Smyth scored later in the period, sealing the game.

The two teams headed back to Edmonton for Game 6, where the Oilers took the game, 2–0, with the game-winning goal from Michael Peca, to win the series, 4–2.

Western Conference Finals

(6) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers opened up the scoring in the first game of the series in the first period, when Michael Peca scored his second short-handed goal of the playoffs on a long pass from Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson. The Ducks quickly answered back with a goal on a power play, tying the game. The Oilers took the lead in the middle of the second period when Ales Hemsky knocked in a high rebound. The Oilers' Todd Harvey scored on an empty net to clinch the game.

The second game of the series was one which many declared a "must-win" for Anaheim [http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/stanleycup2006/storyview.html?/story/stanleycup2006/national/2006/05/19/oilers-ducks-summary.html] [http://www.nhl.com/news/2006/05/272996.html] in order to avoid going down 2–0 in the series heading to Rexall Place, where they had not won since 1999. However, the Oilers opened with another special-teams goal in the first period when Chris Pronger scored on a power-play with a shot off the blue line thirteen minutes into the first period. However, the Ducks responded in the second period with Jeff Friesen putting a rebound past Roloson. Roloson stopped 33 shots on the night. Fernando Pisani, who led the Oilers in goals, scored his eighth of the playoffs with three minutes left in the second period. During the third period, the Ducks pressured Edmonton, much like Game 1, but were unable to beat Roloson as well as the Edmonton shot-blocking. Michael Peca scored his second goal of the series on an empty net as time ran out, giving the Oilers a 2–0 series lead.

Game 3 was played at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The Ducks sought to break the Oilers' six-game playoff win streak in a building they had not won in since 1999. The first period was marred with over 40 penalty minutes assessed in total. However, Toby Petersen managed to put the Oilers in the lead on a failed Bryzgalov clearing attempt which left the net wide open. Both teams could not score in the second period as things seemed to calm down a little. The third period had much more scoring. First, Michael Peca scored on a breakaway. Just over a minute later, Steve Staios scored his first goal of the playoffs on a power play, giving the Oilers a 3–0 lead. Chris Pronger seemed to put this out of reach on a 5-on-3 power-play goal. The Oilers had scored three goals in two and a half minutes, giving them a seemingly safe 4–0 lead. However, the Ducks' Sean O'Donnell scored at just past the seven-minute mark of the third period. Teemu Selanne, who had been quiet for much of the series, put the Ducks right back in the game with his first goal of the series. Chris Kunitz then put the Ducks within a goal as the momentum had completely shifted over. However, Pisani scored his ninth goal of the playoffs off a bad Anaheim faceoff putting the Oilers back ahead by two. This tied him for the most goals in the playoffs with Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks with nine. Selanne then scored his second goal of the game with less than two minutes left, bringing it back to a one-goal game. However, the Oilers managed to hang on in the dying seconds and secure a 3–0 series lead with a chance to sweep at Rexall Place in Game 4. The game had a total of 76 penalty minutes handed out by the time everything was done.

After a less-than-stellar performance in Game 3, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle replaced Bryzgalov with Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Game 4, hoping the shakeup would energize his team. It worked quite well, as the Ducks allowed only three shots in the first period, scoring three goals. Edmonton did lead a comeback in the second period, coming within one of the Ducks, but Joffrey Lupul scored two goals to win the game, 5–2.

Game 5 returned to Anaheim, and the Oilers had several penalties called against them in the first period. Although the Oilers successfully killed off the penalty to Matt Greene, Jaroslav Spacek's hooking minor led to a power play goal for the Ducks, scored by Francois Beauchemin. The first period ended with the Ducks up 1–0 and outshooting the Oilers, 14–8. Early in the second period, the Ducks took a penalty that was successfully killed off, but immediately after the penalty expired, the Oilers tied the game with a rebound goal from Ethan Moreau. Five minutes later, Raffi Torres tipped in a shot from Marc-Andre Bergeron to take the lead in the game. Although several good chances for both teams followed, the lead was held by the Oilers.

Despite late pressure by the Ducks, including a 6-on-3 power play in the final minute of play, the Oilers held on to win the Western Conference and move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. They were the first eighth-seeded team to reach the Finals under the current playoff format (which was introduced in 1994).

tanley Cup Finals

(E2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (W8) Edmonton Oilers

This series marked the first time that the Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1990, when they won their fifth Stanley Cup in team history. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2002, when they fell to the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in five games.

This series marked the first time that two former World Hockey Association teams played against each other for the Stanley Cup since they merged with the NHL in 1979. The Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes team is the only former WHA club to have never contested a Finals. As a result of the new scheduling formula that was implemented before the 2005–06 NHL season, the Hurricanes and the Oilers did not meet during the regular season.

These were also the first ever Finals contested by two teams that had both missed the playoffs the previous season (assuming one skips the unplayed 2005 Stanley Cup Playoffs). Even more interestingly, it would also prove to be the first Finals contested by teams that would both go on to miss the following years' playoffs. Prior to these Finals only one team, the 1938–39 Chicago Blackhawks, had ever missed the playoffs one year, then played in the Stanley Cup Finals (win or lose) the following season, and then missed the playoffs again the season after that. Both the Hurricanes and Oilers have now accomplished this dubious feat.

In Game 1, Carolina tied the biggest comeback in Stanley Cup Finals history, overcoming a three-goal deficit to win, 5–4. Edmonton scored first, 8:18 into the first period, with a goal from Fernando Pisani. In the second period, Chris Pronger scored the first penalty shot goal in Stanley Cup Finals history after defenceman Niclas Wallin illegally covered the puck inside his own goal crease, and Ethan Moreau's goal at 16:23 gave the Oilers a 3–0 lead. But at the 17:17 mark, Rod Brind'Amour scored the Hurricanes' first goal of the game. Carolina then tied the game in the third period with two scores by Ray Whitney. The Hurricanes jumped ahead, 4–3, on a shorthanded goal by Justin Williams, but Edmonton's Ales Hemsky scored on a power play to tie the game with 6:29 remaining. Late in the final period, Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson suffered a series-ending knee injury in a collision and was replaced with Ty Conklin. With 32 seconds to go in regulation, Conklin misplayed the puck, and it deflected off Jason Smith's stick to the front of the empty net, allowing Brind'Amour to score the winning goal.

With Roloson's injury, Jussi Markkanen started for the Oilers in Game 2. Although Markkanen had played 37 games in the regular season - sharing the job with Ty Conklin and Mike Morrison - he had watched the entire post-season from the bench; he also had not played in a game since March 1, 2006. The Hurricanes shut out the Oilers, 5–0, with five different Carolina players scoring goals. Markkanen was Edmonton's third goaltender in the series. It was the first time three goaltenders had been used in a Cup Finals since May 1970, when the St. Louis Blues employed Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall and Ernie Wakely on their way to being swept by the Boston Bruins.

In Game 3, Markkanen once again started in net with Roloson still out. Shawn Horcoff scored just over two minutes into the first period. During the second period, a short-handed goal was waved off by the referee, because he had lost sight of the puck and had blown the whistle, despite the fact that the puck had not yet been covered. The Hurricanes responded midway through the third period with their captain, Rod Brind'Amour, taking a rebound off a blocked shot past Markkanen. However, with 2:15 left in the game, Edmonton's Ryan Smyth scored the winning goal after crashing into Ward inside the crease as they both tried to get control of a rebound off of a shot by Ales Hemsky. Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette and many other Carolina players complained that Smyth should have been penalized for interference, but no penalty was called since the referees felt that he did not make enough contact with Ward to prevent him from attempting a save. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/hockey/nhl/wires/06/12/2040.ap.hkn.stanley.cup.0883/index.html] [http://www.tsn.ca/news_story.asp?id=168462] [http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/columnist.jsp?content=20060612_121515_5012]

In, Game 4, Edmonton got off to a good start when Sergei Samsonov opened the scoring at 8:40 of the first period. However, the lead was short-lived as Cory Stillman replied just 29 seconds later to tie the game, 1–1. Mark Recchi scored the eventual game-winner with just over four minutes to go in the second period. Once again Edmonton's power-play was futile, failing to capitalize on five chances, including a 2-man advantage in the first period. When the game ended, the Oilers were 1-for-25 on the power play to this point in the series.

Carolina entered Game 5 with a 3–1 lead in the series and a chance to win the Stanley Cup on their home ice. However, Edmonton scored first on Fernando Pisani's goal 16 seconds into the game. The Hurricanes then went ahead, 2–1, on two power-play goals by Staal and Whitney before the Oilers scored a power-play goal by Hemsky to tie the game. Peca then gave Edmonton a 3–2 lead with 17.4 seconds left in the first period. In the second period, Staal scored another power play goal to tie the game. With 7:47 remaining in the third period, Whitney missed what might have been the Hurricanes' best chance to close out the series with a shot that just hit the post. The game went to overtime, and Pisani scored the first short-handed overtime goal in Finals history to give the Oilers the win. [http://www.nhl.com/cupcrazy/2006/serieso/game5_recap.html]

Edmonton, in Game 6, shut out Carolina, 4–0, scoring three power-play goals and limiting the Hurricanes to only 16 shots on goal. Edmonton held Carolina to seven shots through 40 minutes of play. Fernando Pisani got his post-season high 5th game winning goal (and 13th in total, also tops amongst scorers in this playoffs).

The Hurricanes returned to their home ice to defeat the Oilers in Game 7, 3–1, to win the Cup. Aaron Ward and Frantisek Kaberle gave Carolina a 2–0 lead before Pisani scored for Edmonton at 1:03 of the third period to cut the lead. With a minute and a half to go in regulation, the Oilers pulled Markkanen in hopes of tying the game. Seconds later, a loose puck wound up on the stick of Bret Hedican. Hedican dumped the puck to Eric Staal, who fed it to Justin Williams. Williams sprinted down the ice and tapped the puck into the empty net at 18:59 of the third period, sealing the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward became the first NHL rookie goalie to win a Stanley Cup Finals series since Patrick Roy lead the Montreal Canadiens in 1986, and he was also the first rookie since the Philadelphia Flyers' Ron Hextall in 1987 to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.

Cory Stillman earned a Stanley Cup title for the second straight season, having won in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the first player to win back-to-back titles with different teams since Claude Lemieux (1995 New Jersey Devils, 1996 Colorado Avalanche).

The Hurricanes' victory ended Glen Wesley's 18-year drought without winning the Cup. He had played close to 1,500 regular season and playoff games before winning the Cup, the longest such drought in the NHL. Wesley was the last player remaining from the franchise's days as the Hartford Whalers. Other notable veterans to win their first Cup were Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Weight, Ray Whitney, and Bret Hedican. Mark Recchi won the second Cup of his career, having won 15 years prior as a member of the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Hurricanes became the third former World Hockey Association franchise to win the Stanley Cup, following the Oilers and Quebec Nordiques, who won as the Colorado Avalanche.

The 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs marked the second time in a row that an Alberta-based team had made it to the NHL finals only to lose in seven games to the Southeast Division champions; the Calgary Flames were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. This also marked the third straight occurrence of the "Curse of Detroit", where since the last time the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002, the Western Conference team that defeated the Detroit Red Wings during the playoffs went on to the finals, and lost the series to the Eastern Conference team in seven games. In each game of the Finals, the team that won the opening faceoff went on to win that game.

This was the first major-league professional championship for the state of North Carolina.

ee also

*2005–06 NHL season
*List of NHL seasons

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