If Anaheim goes on to win the Stanley Cup, Friday night’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers will be a game that lives on forever in the hearts and minds of Ducks supporters everywhere. That’s because Anaheim’s victory — poetically sparked by captain Ryan Getzlaf and capped by the other half of the Ducks’ longtime dynamic duo, Corey Perry — was one of the most unthinkable comebacks in playoff history.
The remarkable come-from-behind win started with little more than three minutes remaining in the third period when Getzlaf, who has been a nightmare for the Oilers throughout the second-round series, slapped home Anaheim’s first goal of the game with the Ducks’ net empty. Then, a mere 35 seconds later, it was defenseman Cam Fowler lighting the lamp. Walking the blueline, the rearguard rifled a puck that had eyes, finding its way through everyone and hitting twine behind Oilers netminder Cam Talbot. Finally, following a scramble in front in the dying seconds, the Ducks punched their ticket to overtime on Rickard Rakell's goal with 15 seconds left on the clock.
Rakell’s goal didn’t come without controversy, of course. Ryan Kesler had been knocked into the Edmonton crease and remained there, interfering with Talbot in the eyes of the Oilers. After a review, though, Rakell’s tally stood. And while it took nearly another period and a half — 26:57, to be exact — for Perry to notch the winner, the Ducks completed the comeback victory and celebrated a 3-2 series lead.
With the Ducks’ unbelievable comeback fresh on the brain, take a look back at five other unforgettable rallies from the past 20 years:
5. Sharks use big second period to dig out of four-goal hole — April 19, 2011
Must be something about California that makes it the perfect place to stage a comeback. From the Miracle on Manchester to the Ducks’ thrilling victory Friday night, some of the most amazing come-from-behind victories have happened out west, and the Sharks’ comeback against the Kings in 2011 certainly fits the bill.
While the four other wins on this list saw a team make last gasps in the third period, San Jose started their march to victory in the second frame. It’s a good thing, too, because the Sharks had the biggest deficit to overcome. The Kings had scored three times in the first frame and added a fourth goal less than a minute into the second period, stretching the lead to 4-0 and controlling the contest. But little more than three minutes into the second, the Sharks got on the board thanks to Patrick Marleau. Then things got hectic.
Over the next 16 minutes, the Sharks scored four more goals, and the two teams headed to overtime deadlocked at five goals apiece. The extra frame didn’t last long, however. Three minutes in, almost exactly 40 minutes after Pavelski had given the Sharks life, Devin Setoguchi fired home the game-winning goal. The Sharks took a 2-1 series lead and went on to win the series in six games.
4. Johansson’s pair helps push Rangers to the brink — April 20, 2011
With the Sharks’ comeback still fresh on the minds of fans throughout the league, Game 4 in the first-round tilt between the Rangers and Capitals was set to go in New York. The contest was going to be a pivotal one, as Washington had the chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead while New York was attempting to knot the series at two. And for the better part of the first 40 minutes, it seemed the Rangers were set to get their way.
In the second frame, New York potted three goals, including two markers in rapid succession — seven seconds separated Brandon Dubinsky’s second goal of the post-season from Marian Gaborik’s first of the series. But Washington managed to pull off their own quick strikes early in the third period to turn what appeared to be a commanding Rangers lead into one that was on much shakier ground.
The first tally came from Alexander Semin less than three minutes into the final period. One minute later, Marcus Johansson notched his first career playoff goal, and he didn’t wait all that long to light the lamp a second time. Little more than eight minutes later, Johansson levelled the score, his tally pushing Game 4 to overtime. With everything moving in the Capitals’ direction, it seemed only a matter of time before they delivered a crushing blow to the Rangers, and 12:36 into the extra frame, it was Jason Chimera who managed to stuff home the game-winner. The series was over three days later, as Washington downed New York in Game 5 and skated on to the second round.
3. Heartbreak for the Maple Leafs, jubilation for the Bruins — May 13, 2013
It’s the rare contest that can be described or recalled with one sentence, but Maple Leafs fans have become all too familiar with the refrain, “It was 4-1.” The contest in question is undoubtedly one of the most memorable games of the past several seasons.
Toronto was making its first post-lockout playoff appearance and, shockingly, had pushed a Boston team that had won the Stanley Cup only two years prior to Game 7. Even more surprising, though, was that the Maple Leafs seemed to be in complete control early in the third frame. After Toronto surrendered an early goal, Cody Franson blasted home two tallies to give the Maple Leafs the lead, which was then added to by Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri in the third. But that’s where the celebrating ended in Toronto.
Midway through the third, Nathan Horton made some in Leaf Nation start questioning themselves when he potted a goal to draw the Bruins within two. And Horton’s goal set the table for a miraculous turn of events. With the net empty and 1:12 remaining, Milan Lucic scored to pull Boston within one and, with goaltender Tuukka Rask again on the bench, Patrice Bergeron tied the game 31 seconds later.
Bergeron’s work wasn’t done there. He still had one more gut-punch to deliver. Six minutes into overtime, he slipped a puck past Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, sealing the win and the series for the Bruins. Boston would go on the Stanley Cup final, but fall short against the Chicago Blackhawks.
2. Kings flip the script in six minutes — April 18, 2001
The perennial contending Red Wings were gearing up for another deep playoff run with their sound regular season performance in 2000-01, but a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings proved to be Detroit’s unexpected undoing.
Everything had started off well for the Red Wings, who had outscored the Kings 9-3 in picking up two home victories to open the series, but Detroit had its first hiccup in Game 3. Los Angeles, led by Luc Robitaille and Jozef Stumpel, managed to escape with a 2-1 victory, and the Kings proceeded to turn the entire series on its ear in Game 4 with a memorable comeback.
Goals by Pat Verbeek, Slava Kozlov and Steve Duchesne had put Detroit up 3-0 as time ticked away. A full third period to come back turned into 15 minutes, which turned into 10 and it seemed Los Angeles was about to fall behind 3-1 to the heavily favored Red Wings. But with 6:07 remaining in the game, the Kings found some hope in the form of a power play goal by Scott Thomas, which was followed less than three minutes later by another tally on the man advantage by Stumpel.
Somehow, the Kings found themselves back within one with 2:27 remaining, setting up for a frantic finish. And frantic it was. With the Kings’ net empty and Los Angeles buzzing around the Detroit zone, Bryan Smolinski netted the game-tying goal with 53 seconds left in the third, and it took less than three minutes for Eric Belanger to pot the overtime winner, sending the Staples Center into a frenzy. With momentum on their side, the Kings went on to win Games 5 and 6 and upset the second-seeded Red Wings.
1. Oilers on the other side of shocking comeback — April 20, 1997
If there are any Oilers faithful who had a somewhat familiar feeling watching the Ducks battle back from a three-goal deficit with roughly three minutes left, it might be because Edmonton has played in the only other playoff game that has ended in such a fashion. The only difference is the Oilers were on the other side, emerging victorious in Game 3 of the opening round series against the Dallas Stars in 1997.
Having won Game 2 of the series, Edmonton was coming back home with the chance to take a series lead and hopefully propel themselves on to the second round for the second-straight season. That hope was quickly was washed away, though, thanks to first period goals by Mike Modano and Benoit Hogue. What little hope was left likely faded when Joe Nieuwendyk scored to stretch the Stars’ lead to three.
The clock was the Oilers’ enemy as the third period began and as the midway point of the period passed, it looked as though Edmonton was about to drop their first home game of the post-season, which would turn Game 4 into a must-win situation. The Oilers got some life, however, when Doug Weight potted his second goal of the series with exactly four minutes left in the third. And when Dallas was penalized only 25 seconds later, Edmonton made good on the chance to strike, getting a goal from Andrei Kovalenko with 2:16 left. The Oilers continued to seemingly feed off of the raucous Edmonton Coliseum, and when Mike Grier scored the game-tying goal a dozen seconds after Kovalenko’s tally, the roof nearly blew off.
Much like Friday’s game against the Ducks, there was no swift finale to the crazy comeback, but it didn’t take more than one overtime for there to be a winner. Midway through the extra frame, Oilers captain Kelly Buchberger rifled home the game-winner, and Edmonton would go on to capture the series in seven games.