The Edmonton Oilers had the game and the series in a stranglehold, but somehow they were the ones who got choked out Wednesday.
They were up 2-0 at home and seemingly in control, with a chance to go up 3-1 in their second round series with the Anaheim Ducks, only to let everything slip away in a crushing 4-3 overtime defeat.
Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg landed the kill shot, scoring 45 seconds into the extra period (after Drake Caggiula tied it with 1:42 left in regulation) to pull the Ducks back to even after losing the first two games at home.
It’s now a best-of-three with Anaheim controlling all of the momentum.
“We were in this same position last series,” said Edmonton captain Connor McDavid. “We’re going into a building where we’ve had success before, we’re comfortable playing there.
“You never want to play a series where you lose both games at home, but that’s the case for both teams — now it’s a race to two.”
Ryan Getzlaf ran Anaheim’s show all night, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the win. He was also plus four and went 62 per cent in the face-off circle.
“He’s a big body, he skates well and he’s very skilled,” said McDavid. “That adds up to a good hockey player. We have to find a way to control him.”
The fact the series is shifting back to Anaheim for Game 5 Friday is no big deal to Oilers coach Todd McLellan.
“We won two games in their building, obviously it’s a road series,” he said. “We’ll take road ice advantage into Game 5.”
What is of concern is that Edmonton still hasn’t played a full 60 minutes of their best hockey in this series, and the time to start is well past due.
The first period was their best of the series — they delivered intense pressure, two clutch penalty kills and a pair of late goals from Milan Lucic and McDavid to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission — but it trailed off badly after that,
As good as Edmonton was in the first, Anaheim was better in the second. They outshot Edmonton 21-5 and outscored them 3-0.
Getzlaf, who’s been a man on a mission in this series, cut the lead to 2-1 at 1:37 (after a long and very close goaltender interference challenge on Corey Perry didn’t go Edmonton’s way), set up Rickard Rakell at 5:35 and silenced the crowd with the go-ahead goal at 14:25.
“Obviously I disagreed with the challenge result, I thought he interfered,” said McLellan. “I thought he interfered with the blocker and he couldn’t make the save. They obviously didn’t see it that way.
“(Anaheim) gained a little momentum from that. Then they get the second one, it bounced around it and it was a lucky break. Then the third one. It took a lot of life and energy out of the building and even more so out of us. It took a lot of work to get back into the game.”
Talbot said he was definitely interfered with, but probably didn’t get the call because he didn’t flop.
“I try to play with integrity in my game, I’m not a guy who’s going to flop and dive and try to get calls,” he said. “But if those are the goals that are going to count when I’m trying my best to make a save then maybe I do have to flop and dive and get those calls like all the other guys.”
The Oilers launched a push back in the third period, and had their best opportunity to pull even with 3:46 left when Antoine Vermette gloved a puck off the face-off to give Edmonton a last chance power play.
Seconds after the penalty expired, and with Talbot on the bench for the extra attacker, Caggiula roofed a rebound from the Anaheim doorstep to send it to overtime.
LATE HITS: Jordan Eberle got busted down to the fourth line, replaced on the second line by Anton Slepyshev, for his part in Anaheim’s first goal of the period. Eberle had two chances to get the puck out of the defensive zone and didn’t … Getzlaf already has seven goals and six assists in the playoffs and has moved past Ducks great Teemu Selanne for the all-time lead in post-season goals with 36.
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Follow me on twitter.com/sun_tychkowski