The Ducks stumbled Tuesday for the first time in two playoff series, squandering a lead late in the third period and falling to the Calgary Flames, 4-3, on Mikael Backlund’s long shot four minutes and 24 seconds into overtime.
The Ducks still lead the series, two games to one, but the fight put up by the resilient Flames will give the Ducks a lot to ponder before Game 4, to be played Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Ducks had won their first six playoff games this spring, matching a club record, and had been remarkably poised until the frantic final minutes of the third period and the overtime.
The Ducks got the benefit of a dubious call late in the third period but couldn’t hold off the still-resilient Flames, who pulled even with 19.5 seconds left.
With 6:17 left in the third period and the Ducks holding a 3-2 lead, it appeared that Calgary rookie Sam Bennett had scored what would have been the tying goal. Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen repelled the puck with his right foot but it appeared the puck had crossed the goal line, though it wasn’t clear if the puck had cross the line entirely.
Replays seemed to show it had crossed the line. But after a long review process at the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto — a wait punctuated by chants of “It was in!” from the crowd--referee Kelly Sutherland came to center ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome and announced "there was no conclusive evidence” that the puck had crossed the goal line and so there was no goal. The NHL issued a statement soon afterward, saying in part, "Video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck completely crossed the Anaheim goal line, therefore the referee's call on the ice stands -- no goal Calgary."
That triggered boos from the crowd, but fans' mood quickly turned to ecstatic when Johnny Gaudreau scored his first goal of the series.
The Flames had a four-on-three manpower edge and pulled goaltender Karri Ramo to increase that advantage to five-on-three, and Gaudreau scored the team’s first power-play goal of the series with a nasty shot from the right circle.
Minor penalties against Corey Perry and Nate Thompson put the Ducks’ penalty killers to work again early in the third period, but they were up to the task. Those missed opportunities left the Flames 0 for 11 on the power play in this series.
The Ducks held that 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. Calgary was credited with only four shots in the second period, one of them being its game-tying goal.
Incidentally, Corey Perry’s goal gave him 70 career playoff points and moved him ahead of Teemu Selanne for second place on the franchise playoff scoring list. Perry has 28 goals and 70 points, while Selanne had 35 goals and 69 points. The franchise playoff career scoring leader is Ryan Getzlaf, with 27 goals, 59 assists and 86 points.
Maintaining their hard-won poise, the Ducks took Calgary's short-handed goal in stride and continued to cycle the puck and win physical battles and forecheck ferociously. Their efforts soon paid off in a goal that gave them the lead again.
Left wing Matt Beleskey, who had no points in the Ducks' first-round sweep of Winnipeg, scored his third goal in three games in this round when he took a pass from a persistent Ryan Kesler and beat Karri Ramo with a quick shot from the inside edge of the right circle at 8:20.
Given a chance to extend their lead when Calgary forward Matt Stajan was sent to the penalty box for tripping at 3:07, the Ducks instead gave up a shorthanded goal that let the Flames pull even at 2-2.
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, reaching for a pass at his offensive blue line, missed the puck and fell. That set Joe Colborne free on a breakaway, and he went to his backhand before slipping a shot under Frederik Andersen on the forehand at 4:17.
The Ducks protected that 2-1 lead for the rest of the period, deflating a crowd that had been screaming and roaring to support the home team.
The Ducks had an 8-5 edge in shots and an 11-5 edge in faceoffs, led by Ryan Kesler’s 6-1 record. The Flames were credited with 14 hits to nine for the Ducks.
The Ducks took the lead on a play that symbolized their biggest advantages so far in this series: their size, will, and ability to finish.
Ryan Getzlaf, who played his junior hockey in Calgary and is pictured on a banner hanging in the rafters here, used his size and strength to simply separate T.J. Brodie from the puck along the boards in the Flames' zone.
His shot was blocked but Simon Despres picked up the puck and carried it behind the net. His pass in front was redirected into the net off the skate of Corey Perry; the play was reviewed and was allowed to stand on the basis that Perry had not made a distinct kicking motion. The sequence was Perry from Despres and Getzlaf at 14:10.
Calgary successfully rode the wave of their fans' emotions and scored first, at 2:07 of the first period.
Brandon Bollig, who had scored one goal in 62 regular-season games, was inexplicably left alone in the slot after the Ducks had a defensive breakdown and he set the crowd to roaring when he lifted a shot past Frederik Andersen.
The assists went to Markus Granlund and Mason Raymond.
But that lead didn't last long—only until 6:57. Patrick Maroon was stationed in front of the net when he took a quick and accurate pass from Ryan Getzlaf, who was in the right circle, and Maroon didn't miss.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen, who had given the puck to Getzlaf, got the second assist.
Greetings from the Scotiabank Saddledome, where Calgary Flames fans will be out in numbers Tuesday — and will be loud — when their team tries to get back into its Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Ducks. The Ducks won the first two games, at Anaheim, by a combined 9-1.
The Flames were expected to make one lineup change Tuesday. Coach Bob Hartley said defenseman Raphael Diaz, who had been sidelined by a lower-body injury, would play alongside David Schlemko. However, Hartley didn’t say who will come out of the lineup. The likely candidate is Tyler Wotherspoon, who played only six minutes and two seconds in Game 2.
"If Raffy can give us some power-play time and give us some solid play in our zone, first pass out of the zone is always great, great shot, he’s a veteran," Hartley said. "He's played in this league before so it’s good news."
In addition, Hartley said he will make a game-time decision on whether to play forward Micheal Ferland, who missed Game 2 because of an undisclosed injury. Although Hartley separated his top trio of Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau for most of Game 2 he had the three forwards taking line rushes together on Tuesday so it’s likely they’ll be reunited.
The Ducks weren’t expected to make any changes. Jason LaBarbera was scheduled to back up starting goaltender Frederik Andersen for the third straight game, after John Gibson was idled by a bout with the flu. However, Gibson made the trip to Calgary.
One more Ducks note: center Ryan Getzlaf on Monday was named a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership award, which goes to “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.” Getzlaf, the Ducks’ captain, said Tuesday he was flattered to be considered along with Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.
"It's a pretty big guy to be following. Messier left quite the legacy on the game," Getzlaf said of the six-time Stanley Cup champion. "To be noticed in the same category is quite the honor."
He also said the nomination is a tribute to his teammates’ willingness to follow his lead for the good of the team.
"A lot of it does depend on your group. You can do anything you want but if guys aren't willing to buy in and do the things that we need to do, I don't look like much of a leader," he said. "I'm pretty fortunate to have the group that I have in here and the surrounding older players that do take the reins on this team."
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