Final Score: Ducks 4, Oilers 3 (2OT)
The story here is either Edmonton’s collapse in the last four minutes of the third period or the NHL’s miserable goalie interference call on the crucial 3-3 goal. We’ll get to both in a bit, but let’s start from the beginning.
The early contest was not kind to the Oilers. Leon Draisaitl made a defensive zone turnover on the first shift, and chaos ensued. Mark Letestu lost the draw which followed and Anaheim nearly took a 1-0 lead on the second shift.
Worse, Matt Benning was hammered into the boards by Nate Thompson and stayed down until the whistle blew. Hampus Lindholm rang a puck off the post. Ryan Getzlaf caught Andrej Sekera along the boards and then Sekera had to be helped off; he would not return. Oscar Klefbom blocked a shot high and was in obvious pain on the bench.
For good measure, there were penalties. Getzlaf took a penalty shot after Milan Lucic was ruled to have hooked him just enough for the call. Patrick Maroon took a far more blatant high-sticking minor. Benning, who returned in the first period, took a slashing minor that had Twitter seeing red.
Through it all, there was Cam Talbot. Talbot turned aside 13 shots, dealt with a ridiculous amount of traffic in his crease (even drawing one penalty) and kept Edmonton afloat through a period in which they were badly outplayed.
And the Oilers took advantage. Klefbom returned for the first shift of the second, and picked up a point on Draisaitl’s 1-0 goal. The Ducks took a couple of penalties, and Edmonton took a 2-0 lead thanks to the magic of Connor McDavid and Mark Letestu on the power play. Corey Perry got burned by his reputation for diving, and the Oilers got away with a 3-0 goal, too. The second period was the reverse of the first, as Edmonton dominated the play and the scoreboard, despite a badly banged up defence corps.
The physical play never stopped – Kris Russell got hammered and returned in the game after a brief interlude – and the Ducks didn’t go away but it looked like the Oilers were going to grit out the win.
That is, until the last five minutes of the third. Edmonton had been trying to hang on for most of the period, and finally the team couldn’t. Anaheim scored once and then a second time. Then, with 15 seconds left, Darnell Nurse pushed Ryan Kesler into the crease. Kesler, opportunist that he is, took advantage of the situation and grabbed Talbot’s pad with his hands.
The NHL ruled that a good goal, with an official explanation that put all the blame on Nurse and didn’t even mention Kesler grabbing the pad. And thus a 3-0 lead turned into overtime.
Overtime was thrilling, as it is, with chances at both ends of the rink. But it ended with Corey Perry scoring the winner off a Ryan Getzlaf pass as Draisaitl veered too far to the boards to get back into position. The ending would have stunk for Oilers fans regardless; that it was Perry driving the knife home was insult added to injury.
The Bright Side
- That was a gritty night for Edmonton’s defence, and a loss doesn’t change that. Benning, Klefbom and Russell all had painful moments and stayed in the game. Adam Larsson played 45 minutes, holding the fort as seemingly the entire blue line went down. Darnell Nurse played less than Larsson and suffered less than the others, but he too managed to keep his cool in the third period when Corey Perry slashed him on the hands. It wasn’t enough for the win, but it was still impressive to behold.
- Draisaitl picked up a goal in his first game back at centre. If he can stay there and be effective, it gives the Oilers a real good shot at three scoring lines: McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins.
- Connor McDavid got a ton of credit online for the 2-0 goal, and rightly so, but Mark Letestu’s last-second flip pass was a thing of beauty, too. He knew he couldn’t get the shot, and he got the puck to McDavid’s general area. That’s never a bad play.
- Drake Caggiula scored his second in as many games and didn’t look out of place on McDavid’s line. Tying this back to the first point, if he can thrive in that position it makes it a lot easier to leave Draisaitl at centre (and gives the Oilers a shot at a Conor Sheary/Jake Guentzel-type bargain deal on McDavid’s wing).
- The third line didn’t score, but looked like it had some jump. Special teams, injuries and the like kept it from getting as long a look as I would have liked but I though both Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot looked more like their old selves.
- The league got the call right on a disallowed Anaheim goal in the second period; there really wasn’t any question that Nick Ritchie made contact above the crossbar and both the initial decision and the subsequent review came to that conclusion.
- There’s a range of opinions on both fighting ion the game of hockey and The Code, but one can’t fault Zack Kassian for making it clear to Ritchie that the hit on Russell was beyond the pale.
- I’ve got a follow-up to this in the facepalmers, but watching Corey Perry not get the call after a head snap and a pirouette didn’t hurt my feelings any. My assumption is the officials saw his spin and assumed he was embellishing, something he has a well-earned reputation for. I’m a little torn because I like to see penalties called, but that’s a live by the sword, die by the sword kind of moment and it’s kind of nice to see a dirty player pay for his reputation.
The Face Palmers
- Anaheim’s 3-3 goal definitely should not have counted. If that’s not goalie interference, nothing is. It’s baffling that the league could miss Kesler grabbing Talbot’s pad; it’s equally baffling that they could see it and chose not to call it.
- That first period. Woof.
- That third period. Woof.
- If you were hoping for a game of unquestionable officiating, you must not be familiar with the NHL playoffs. At any rate, this game wasn’t it; an early penalty shot call was highly debateable as Lucic battled for position with Getzlaf. We just didn’t know it was going to be a harbinger of things to come.
- I winced both at the hit that Kris Russell took from Ritchie and the (unpenalized) slash to the hands that Zack Kassian took from Shea Theodore. This was a hurting game for the Oilers, a lot of times legally but in those two cases not so much.
- Edmonton’s 3-0 goal could potentially not have counted, thanks to Patrick Maroon doing stupid things with his stick behind the play. Mistakes by the officials tend to even out, given enough time. Of course, you can win or lose a series while they’re in the process of evening out, and the Oilers are at risk of that here. Beyond that, Maroon’s had a problem with dumb penalties all playoffs and needs to dial it back.
- No goals
- 0:15: 1-0 Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl (3), assists to Oscar Klefbom (3) and Adam Larsson (3)
- 2:55: 2-0 Edmonton. Connor McDavid (5), assists to Mark Letestu (4) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4)
- 12:28: 3-0 Edmonton. Drake Caggiula (2), assists to Connor McDavid (4) and Kris Russell (3)
- 16:44: 1-3 Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf (8), assists to Jakub Silfverberg (3) and Ryan Kesler (5)
- 17:19: 2-3 Anaheim. Cam Fowler (1), assists to Jakub Silfverberg (4) and Corey Perry (4)
- 19:45: 3-3 Anaheim. Rickard Rakell (5), assists to Corey Perry (5) and Cam Fowler (3)
- No goals
- 6:57: 4-3 Anaheim. Corey Perry (2), assists to Ryan Getzlaf (7) and Rickard Rakell (4)