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Column: Relentless Ducks come from behind to take 3-0 series lead

The Calgary Flames ask fans to wear the team’s bright red jerseys to games at the Scotiabank Saddledome to create what has come to be known as the “C of Red,” and it’s an impressive sight because almost everyone complies. The Ducks were drowning in that C of red — of red jerseys and red goal lights behind John Gibson on Monday night — before they scored four straight goals to pull off a stunning comeback and wrest a 5-4 victory from the Flames in overtime.

“You never say never,” said Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who was set up by Nate Thompson and Rickard Rakell for a shot that deflected off Calgary defenseman Michael Stone and into the net 90 seconds into overtime. “You just keep pushing shift after shift, get pucks to the net. We found a way tonight and that’s all that matters.”

The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history produced a victory that gave them a forbidding 3-0 lead in this series. Game 4 will be played Wednesday in Calgary.

They trailed, 4-1, in the second period and deserved to be there. But a goal by Shea Theodore with 49 seconds left in the second period, which seemed a footnote at the time, became a turning point.

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“We were so disjointed early in the hockey game that we needed something positive to build on,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “Five minutes to go in the second we said we need something to turn the tide. We found a way to claw ourselves back in the hockey game. . . . We couldn’t seem to make two passes together for the better part of two periods. Then we got a goal that gave us life and made us believe.”

Believing led to doing, “once we got through the hurdles of our inefficiency for half the game,” Carlyle said. Jonathan Bernier made 16 saves in relief of Gibson to get the victory, calming that C of Red and putting the Flames on the brink of elimination.

Down by three goals, the Ducks chipped away on Theodore’s goal and a third-period deflection by Nate Thompson that was challenged by the Flames, who claimed that he had batted Hampus Lindholm’s shot into the net with a high stick.

The call on the ice was that it was a good goal, and a review by officials in the NHL’s situation room verified that. In a statement, they cited rule 38.4(vi), which states, “The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick in relation to the crossbar. If the puck makes contact with the portion of the stick that is at or below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed.”

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Theodore tied it at 4-4 with 4 minutes 21 seconds left in the third period on a long shot that got through traffic in front of Flames goalie Brian Elliott, possibly after glancing off Calgary forward Sam Bennett.

“We controlled a lot of the play early,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We had them in a good spot, up two . ... We needed a better push.”

With the Ducks’ Nick Ritchie serving an interference penalty, Troy Brouwer fed Sean Monahan on the right side of the slot for Calgary’s first goal, at 2:10 of the first period. That was Monahan’s third goal of the series, all scored during power plays.

The Ducks killed off a penalty against Korbinian Holzer but were burned again by Calgary’s power play after Lindholm was sent off for goaltender interference at 8:16. Kris Versteeg, who played on Chicago’s 2010 and 2015 Stanley Cup championship teams, scored from close range after the rebound of a shot by Monahan bounced in front of Gibson.

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The Ducks trimmed Calgary’s lead to 2-1 at 15:33 on a goal by Ritchie, a big, physical forward who is effective around the net. But the Flames rebuilt a two-goal lead at 4:34 of the second period on a shot by Michael Stone from the right point, only their second even-strength goal of the series. Carlyle yanked Gibson and replaced him with Bernier after Bennett gave Calgary that 4-1 lead during a power play by deflecting a long shot by Mark Giordano.

The Flames capitalized on three of five power plays, improving to five for 13 with a man advantage in the series.

Cam Fowler’s absence from the Ducks’ lineup is taking a toll on the team’s penalty killing. Fowler, injured on April 4 when he absorbed a knee-on-knee hit from Giordano, skated Monday for the first time since he was hurt and reported no problems. However, he’s not ready to return.

Still, the Ducks have a 3-0 series lead without him and, the past two games, without Sami Vatanen (upper-body injury). That’s as impressive as any C of Red ever was.

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen


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