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Oilers stun Ducks with blowout win to force Game 7

Oilers teammates celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during their Game 6 win on May 7, 2017.

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

At the end of Friday night's heartbreaking overtime defeat in Anaheim, Leon Draisaitl was disconsolate. The loss was hardly his fault, but the young centre blamed himself because the first goal in the Ducks' stunning rally from three back caromed off him and into the net.

As he sat on the bench staring glumly, Connor McDavid came up behind him, gave him a pat and said, "Come on, let's go."

Draisaitl was feeling a heck of a lot better on Sunday night. The 21-year-old German centre, whose accomplishments have been overshadowed by McDavid's this season, scored three times and had two assists as the Oilers steamrolled Anaheim, 7-1.

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The victory tied the Stanley Cup playoff series at three wins each, with the deciding game to be played at Honda Center on Wednesday.

In the gloom of the Oilers dressing room on Friday, a tight-faced McDavid predicted as much, and now they doing it emphatically. In 1994, with the Rangers trailing in the Eastern Conference semi-final, a fellow named Mark Messier did something quite similar.

Draisaitl, who finished eighth in the NHL in scoring in the regular season, netted two goals in the first seven minutes.

Hats rained down when he added his third with 4 minutes 33 seconds left in the second period. It was 7-1 by then, and the Ducks had come unravelled.

It was Draisaitl's sixth multipoint game against Anaheim this season. He now has 10 goals and 20 points against them in 10 games, and four of his goals have been game-winners.

Mark Letestu also scored twice and had two assists for the Oilers. The third-line centre has five goals and 11 points in 12 postseason games.

"It was an awesome night," Letestu said. "We knew were going to respond. We have all year. We believe we are a great team and can play with anybody."

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The other goals were scored by Zack Kassian and Anton Slepyshev. Twelve Edmonton players made the scoresheet – and oddly enough, McDavid was not among them. He was happy to simply quarterback his team's offence and watch the fireworks around him.

The game was so lopsided that John Gibson, the Anaheim netminder, was yanked after giving up three goals on six shots early in the game. Even after Jonathan Bernier replaced him, the sellout crowd in Edmonton's downtown arena continued to taunt Gibson.

The rout turned the Oilers' ardent supporters into a pulsating, jubilant mass. At various times, they directed loud chants at the refs, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. To hear them, just about everybody not dressed in Edmonton orange and blue sucked.

They cheered at one point when Perry, who scored the winning goal on Friday, limped off the ice. They were thrilled when Drake Caggiula, a 5-foot-9 centre, dropped his gloves to take on the gritty Kesler.

It was like a Chihuahua fighting a pit bull, but Caggiula landed a handful of punches, at the end with Kesler laying beneath him.

McDavid even got into the act, at one point shoving his glove into Jakob Silfverberg's face. Milan Lucic took some bows late in the third when he, too, fought Kesler.

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"It has been a pretty emotional series," Lucic said. "Eventually, tempers are going to flare."

The series now returns to Southern California, and the Ducks' home ice. The Oilers won the first two games of the series there and Anaheim is weighted down a bit by its past. Three times the Ducks have lost after leading a best-of-seven series.

After taking a 2-0 series lead, the Oilers had suffered three successive losses, including back-to-back overtime defeats in Games 4 and 5.

In those games, Edmonton blew two- and three-goal leads, and in each a pivotal score by Anaheim was upheld after the Oilers requested a video review for goaltender interference.

In Game 4, the Ducks trailed 2-0 in the second period before Ryan Getzlaf scored on a play where it appeared Perry cut through the crease and made contact with Cam Talbot.

In Game 5, Anaheim became the first team in NHL playoff history to force an overtime when trailing by three goals with less than four minutes left in regulation.

Rickard Rakell had the tying goal with 15 seconds left during a scramble in front of the net. During the melee, Darnell Nurse knocked Kesler into the crease, but once he got there it looked like Kesler held Talbot's pad, preventing him from making a save.

Talbot ended up with 60 on the night, a franchise record in postseason, but the Oilers lost in double overtime. He had 34 on Sunday night, and the outcome was much different.

Heading into Game 6, there was nothing untrue about what the Oilers' players were saying. But in the face of the results, their truisms began to sound like clichés.

"We have to forget what happened," Patrick Maroon, the brawny forward, said. "I honestly felt it was our best game in the series until those three minutes. We got the better of them.

"We are still in a good spot. We can find ways to win."

As it turns out, McDavid and the Oilers were right. Game 7 is Wednesday night.

"We got the start we needed," Lucic said. "Getting the first goal was huge. And from what we experienced in Games 4 and 5 with them coming back, we knew we had to keep our foot on the pedal."

Video: Becoming captain was a pivotal moment for Connor McDavid: Coach (The Canadian Press)
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