We all know the story of Game Five by now.
The Oilers were up 3-0 on the Anaheim Ducks before the opposition took hold with a three-goal rally in the final 3:16 of the third to force overtime. And after a wrenching first OT, the Ducks closed it out in the second overtime and took the series lead three games to two.
“There’s not much that can really be said right now,” Oilers forward Connor McDavid said after Game Five. “It [stinks]. But we’ll be back here Wednesday [for Game 7].”
Whether that proclamation can be read as equivalent to a Messier-esque prediction from on high remains to be seen, but Edmonton has a lot to prove on Sunday as they face the Ducks in Game Six. It’s a must-win situation, obviously, but it’s also a must-prove situation.
These Oilers have little playoff experience in the face of an Anaheim team stacked to the rafters with grizzled vets. These Oilers took down the San Jose Sharks in the first round, defeating a hockey team that was arguably better than they were. And these Oilers have been riding momentum and emotion for a long while now.
Emotion can put a lot of gas in the tank, but Edmonton may be running on fumes right now.
A lot hasn’t gone the Oilers’ way, truth be told. Questionable goals have been awarded to the Ducks and they’ve been handed some momentum-killing calls.
But that’s how hockey teams are made and Edmonton has to respond in a way that proves they aren’t just happy to have the chance.
Sunday’s Game Six is the first elimination team these young Oilers have faced. Little will change in their approach, but the Ducks will be ready.
After all, it was the Ducks that scored three goals in just a touch over three minutes. It was the Ducks that scored those three goals with John Gibson pulled from the net, showcasing a never-say-die attitude that comes with experience. And it was the Ducks that rallied from a two-goal deficit in Game Four to snag a 4-3 overtime win.
Ryan Getzlaf has been a force of nature for Anaheim and he’s pulled the game back out of linemate Corey Perry, who’s also been dangerous. Their play has helped the Ducks find an extra gear.
And that extra gear, painful and heartrending as it is, has put Anaheim over the top. For now.