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Underdog: Fernando Pisani

They have time to kill now folks. Time to kill now.

Phoenix Coyotes at Edmonton Oilers...
Can’t have an underdog week without Fernando PIsani
Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Fernando Pisani scored a big goal for the Oilers the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. He scored 14 goals in the playoffs that year. He had only one more playoff goal in his entire career, but the one he scored against the Hurricanes in game 5 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals will be the one that you probably remember most.

I sure know it’s the one I’ll remember most.

It was a mammoth goal, an absolute killer. People were hugging complete strangers. Dogs barked. Cats meowed. Babies cooed. Everything was beautiful, if only for a minute. Fernando Pisani scored a stunner of a shorthanded goal in overtime in what could have been a deciding game for the Hurricanes.

Fernando Pisani never was a big goal scorer. Over his 402 game career with the Oilers, he scored eighty times, though he had the knack for putting the big one in the net. Though he never took home any scoring titles in his NHL career, he was an integral figure on those mid-2000s Oiler clubs. He was an underdog in every sense of the word.

Fernando Pisani was drafted in the eighth round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. The hometown product played Junior A for St. Albert and he suited up for Providence College for four years between 1996-2000. A right wing, Pisani finished second in club scoring in his junior year (14-37-51 in 38 GP), but he didn’t crack 40 points in any other year.

Beginning in 2000, Pisani would spend two full years playing for Edmonton’s AHL affiliate in Hamilton. He’d finish eighth and fourth in scoring in those two years. Pisani split time with Hamilton and Edmonton during the 2002-03 season, a season that saw him put up 13 points in 35 games with the big club. It would be the last year that Pisani would play an AHL game.

The 2003-04 NHL season saw Pisani’s role continue to evolve. He would finish with 30 points (16-14-30) in 76 games, good for eighth on the club. A stop in Europe saw Pisani split time in Switzerland and Italy during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, little did he (or we) know that he’d have his biggest season coming up back home.

Side note: Marty Reasoner!

The OIlers began 2005-06 in less than spectacular fashion. They won their first three, but an 0-6-1 streak would bury them in the standings. Trouble? They won their next five. The Oilers would see-saw into an eighth place finish as the season would end. Two victories (one over Anaheim, another over Colorado) would ensure Edmonton got into the playoffs as the eighth seed.

The Oilers were not a particularly potent offence during the regular season in 2005-06. Both Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff had 70+ point seasons, but the club ranked 13th in the league in scoring. Fernando Pisani finished the 05-06 season with a career high with 37 points. (18-19-37)

He was about to tear it up in the playoffs.

Pisani would score fourteen goals in the playoffs. That’s twice as many as both Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff. Fourteen! The guy was everywhere. Ten of the fourteen were even strength.

One was in overtime, shorthanded. You remember. Steve Staios in the box. Game 5 in Carolina. Tied in OT. Steve Staios takes a tripping penalty. Showtime.

Pisani’s goal would send Carolina back to Edmonton for game 6. The Oilers pushed it to 7 before succumbing to the Hurricanes in the last possible game of the season.

Pisani would play four more years with the Oilers, but he would never equal his point total in 2005-06 (and the Oilers would have to wait eleven more years before they would see the playoffs again). A shift to centre in the 2007-08 season came, it didn’t do wonders for his point totals. Pisani’s last three years with the Oilers were marred by a myriad of injuries. In 2007-08, ulcerative colitis kept him on the shelf until December. In 2008-09, an ankle injury helped limit him to only 38 games. His final year saw him suit up in 40 games due in part to a back injury. A few healthy scratches came along the way, and the Oilers were headed towards full tank mode. The writing was on the wall.

Fernando Pisani played one more year in the NHL with Chicago and had a short stop in Sweden afterwards. He wasn’t one of the top scorers for the Oilers, but he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Pisani never had any gaudy goal totals, but we’ll never forget his 2005-06 and Edmonton’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

A true underdog if there ever was one; this one’s for you, Fernando.