The Oilers are heading back to Anaheim tied with the Ducks after four games in their second-round playoff series, but, suddenly, it feels like they are behind.
Edmonton coughed up a two-goal lead and then tied it in the final two minutes before suffering a painful 4-3 loss in overtime at Rogers Place on Wednesday night.
With the loss, the Oilers gave back the home-ice advantage they had wrestled away from the Ducks by winning Games 1 and 2 in southern California. Anaheim now has the momentum going into Game 5 on Friday night at the Honda Center.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the winner 45 seconds into overtime, blasting a shot from the left wing past Cam Talbot. Ryan Getzlaf, who had a four-point night, set the goal up with a perfect pass. The shot flew over Talbot's pad inside the post, and a tense see-saw battle was over.
"There is not much you can do," said Talbot, who had 35 saves. "He made a great shot."
Drake Caggiula tied the game for Edmonton with 1:42 left in the third period, picking up a rebound off a shot by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and flipping it over John Gibson. It was the first goal and point for the rookie left wing in 10 postseason contests. A year ago, Caggiula helped the University of Dakota win the NCAA championship.
The goal was scored one second after an Oilers power play had expired, and with Talbot pulled from the net to give Edmonton an extra attacker. The Oilers had received the benefit of a peculiar call against Antoine Vermette with 3:43 left. Officials sent Vermette to the box for swiping the puck with his hand in the faceoff circle, a delay-of-game infraction.
The sellout crowd, some dressed like Duck Dynasty cast members, roared when Caggiula lifted the puck over Gibson. The arena fell into a hush when Silfverberg scored his fifth goal of the series, and seventh in eight games this postseason.
"That's the way the playoffs are," Caggiula said. "There are highs and lows. There is no easy game.
"We did a good job battling back, but came up a little short. It is a best-of-seven series, though, and we are still tied, 2-2."
The Oilers had unexpectedly won each of the first two games on the road, but now the Ducks have returned the favour. With a victory on Friday, the Ducks could end the series on Edmonton's home ice on Sunday night.
The Oilers had only five losses in their last 23 home games, but have now lost two in a row.
The Oilers had their best start of the series but then lost their way. They were badly outshot over the last two periods and failed to generate much offence as the Ducks took over the game. At one point, Edmonton went 10 minutes without a shot.
The Oilers also fared very poorly again in the faceoff circle, winning only 24 of 62. Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl went an abysmal 5-22.
Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, who have shined through the first two rounds, were the big stars for the Ducks. Getzlaf scored the first and last of three unanswered goals in the second period and now has four in the series and seven in postseason play.
Rakell had the tying goal in between them, with an assist to Getzlaf.
With his two goals, Getlzaf tied Teemu Selanne for the Ducks' franchise record with 35 career postseason goals.
This is the 20th time in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs that a team has blown a multi-goal lead.
The Oilers came out firing in the first period, throwing their bodies around against the Ducks like they had in the opening round against San Jose. Zack Kassian and Matthew Benning delivered crushing checks, with the rookie defenceman rocking Corey Perry along the boards at the middle of the rink.
Connor McDavid missed from in close in front of the net as the Oilers mounted an 8-3 advantage in shots midway through the first period.
Twice, the Oilers killed power plays without Anaheim mustering much of a threat.
Eighteen seconds after the Ducks were caught with too many players on the ice, Milan Lucic slapped a puck past Gibson to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Draisaitl and Mark Letestu were both given assists on the goal with 4:22 left in the first period.
A little over two minutes later, McDavid scored for the fourth time in the postseason and second time in as many games, depositing a shot into the back of the net after a pass from Draisaitl.
The crowd began regaling McDavid, nominated this week for the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, with chants of MVP. At the same time, Gibson began hearing catcalls from the orange-clad spectators.
As good as the first period was for Edmonton, the second was bad. Getzlaf scored his third goal of the series and sixth in eight playoff games for the Ducks 1:37 in to cut their deficit to 2-1. The Oilers asked for a review due to possible goaltender interference because it looked like Perry bumped Talbot in the crease. The goal stood.
Then Rakell tied it from the left wing less than four minutes later, and Getzlaf whacked in a rebound of a shot by Rakell to put Anaheim ahead with 5:37 left.
The Ducks outshot the Oilers in the second period 21-5, and the game suddenly was leaning heavily in their favour.
The Oilers' improbable run looked like it may continue when Caggiula netted the tying goal. They have gone from 29th in the league last year to eighth this season, and are tied 2-2 in the second round.
After losing in overtime and giving back the home-ice advantage, their task just became a heck of a lot more difficult.