EDMONTON — Forget about the mysterious goalie interference, the icings, the offsides and whatever calls you may believe have stacked up against the Edmonton Oilers in that Game 4 overtime loss.
The fact is Edmonton had no business being up 3-1 on the Anaheim Ducks in this series. In fact, based on who has carried the play, the Oilers are damned lucky to be 2-2 through four games after Ryan Getzlaf stole a puck and put it on a Silfverberg platter just 45 ticks into the extra period Wednesday night.
Anaheim erased a 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes, survived Drake Caggiula’s tying goal with 1:42 to play in third period, and won their second straight at Rogers Place by a 4-3 score on Jakob Silfverberg’s ninth shot on goal of the night.
"It’s a best-of-three series now, and we’ve been in this position last series," said Leon Draisaitl, whose mastery of the Ducks disappeared here in Edmonton. Jordan Eberle, meanwhile, was demoted to the fourth line and would have fallen further had their been a fifth or sixth unit for Todd McLellan to send him to.
"It’s a weird series when both teams have gone into one another’s building and won both games," observed Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "So I’m sure they’re looking at it and saying, ‘We’ve got road-ice advantage.’ We’re going to try to defend it. It’s our serve."
If each game of these series are like a chapter in a book, then the surprise ending might have to be something the Ducks have seen too many times before. This tiff is heading for a Game 7 in Anaheim, a game the Ducks have choked on in the past four tries.
But first, Game 4. A game that will be immortalized as the finest Tour de Force we’ve seen Getzlaf produce, perhaps ever, in our years watching the big Regina kid patrol an NHL surface.
The Ducks captain owned every battle, won every puck, passed for two goals and shot the other two in himself. He was far, far more than Edmonton could handle—any team, really—both on this night and in this series.
"It’s remarkable," said Silfverberg. "He’s one of the best players in the league and when he plays like he did tonight, that aggressiveness and that physicality, he just pushes the whole team to move forward with him."
"He’s our captain. He’s our leader," said Carlyle. "Now, in these situations in the playoffs, he’s been a guy who’s stepped to the forefront, ready to take the bull by the horns."
As good as Connor McDavid has been in spurts, Getzlaf has been better more consistently throughout this series. Which should be expected when a 20-year-old in his maiden playoff voyage goes up against a multi-Olympian, Stanley Cup winner and playoff veteran like Getzlaf.
It shouldn’t be a contest, and it hasn’t been.
"You got to go win more battles than the guy across from you, that’s playoff hockey," said Getzlaf, an absolute beast in Game 4.
After a dominant first period by Edmonton, all the territorial advantage and puck possession by Anaheim did what it usually does: it earned the Ducks a few breaks. Getzlaf rifled a shot past goalie Cam Talbot as Corey Perry—who was on the top line only because of Patrick Eaves’ injury—rubbed/bumped Talbot as he passed through the top of the crease.
Had this writer been foolish enough to bet on a decision made by the NHL’s Situation Room, he would have put his shekels on goalie interference. Of course, it was deemed a good goal, Perry’s clear contact somehow all right when so many times this season the identical play has been deemed illegal.
But truly, does anyone really know what constitutes goalie interference (or offside, or icing) anymore?
"I try to play with integrity in my game," Talbot said afterwards, still fuming two hours after the call. "I’m not a guy who’s going to flop and dive and try to get calls, 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."
That goal turned the momentum for Anaheim, and the Oilers never got it back until the final seconds of the game. Even then, Getzlaf stole a puck and found Silfverberg for a one-timer just 45 seconds into overtime.
So, we fly to Disneyland for Game 5 on Friday. And why not?
This series has been nothing, if not Goofy.