The Edmonton Oilers took to the ice on Sunday, April 23rd, 2006 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit desperately in need of a victory. The club battled hard, but ultimately dropped a 3-2 decision in double overtime of Game 1 two nights prior. Edmonton needed a victory in Game 2 to take the series to Northern Alberta all tied up.
The game was played early in the afternoon, featured nationally in the United States on NBC. Things started well for the underdogs, as Chris Pronger opened the scoring with his second of the playoffs just 12:32 into the contest. Steve Staios and Shawn Horcoff picked up the assists, but the lead wouldn’t last.
Jason Williams, who joined the Oilers organization in 2014-15 as an AHL’er in Oklahoma City, tied the contest with his first of the series at 14:50. Robert Lang, who opened the scoring in Game 1, and Steve Yzerman would collect the assists.
Detroit’s powerplay would strike for the second straight game early in the second period. Henrik Zetterberg, who had a sensational series, scored his first goal at 7:11 of the middle frame on the skater advantage. Tomas Holmstrom, who also would have a strong series, picked up the primary assist, while Niklas Kronwall also got a helper.
The Oilers, at this point, were at a crossroads. They could backdown, accept defeat and try to get back into the series in Edmonton. Or, they could buckle up, battle hard and try to get even. They chose the second option, and had two unlikely heroes step up.
First, Fernando Pisani scored his first goal of the playoffs at 17:49 to tie the contest at two. Pisani, a strong two-way forward best suited to the third line, was not expected to provide much offense. This goal, however, would be the starting point for a spring to remember for the Edmonton native.
57 seconds after Pisani’s tally, Brad Winchester snapped home his very first NHL goal to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead heading into the intermission.
The Wings pushed in the final frame, but deadline addition Dwayne Roloson slammed the door shut, and Jarret Stoll hit the empty net at 19:47 to cement a massive 4-2 victory for the Oilers.
Against the odds, Edmonton was going home with a close loss and a massive victory. The series was tied 1-1, and a raucous Rexall Place was waiting. Two nights later, the Oilers would have a chance to send a real message to the Red Wings.