The only way to describe what happened tonight at Rexall Place is a three-word phrase: what a game.
For two periods, it looked like the teams were going to play a closely-contested battle with Edmonton holding a slight 1-0 advantage but in the third period everything changed.
"This is the look of a deer in the headlights right now," joked Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish before the post-game press conference.
"It was quite clear early that we didn't have any jump at all. Roli kept us in the game through two periods and the fact we were up 1-0 after two periods was a testament to his ability."
Edmonton exploded for three goals in a two-minute span to give themselves a huge 4-0 advantage but Anaheim stormed right back and netted three in four minutes to make it 4-3. Each side traded goals, making the final 5-4.
The victory moved the Oilers within a game of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 16 years but as defenceman Chris Pronger noted, the series isn't over yet.
"We're close, we're not there. We can't get ahead of ourselves," said Pronger. "We've got a chance to close them out on Thursday but I'm sure they're going to have a lot to say about it."
"This game was one that was competed at the highest level of any of the previous games," said Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle. "I thought we played a pretty competitive hockey game and had a lot of opportunities. We couldn't get it done."
The Oilers were leading 1-0 early in the third period when Michael Peca created a turnover and broke in alone on Bryzgalov. Peca made no mistake, firing the puck just inside the right post to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead.
"At the time I said to (assistant coaches Craig Simpson and Charlie Huddy) I felt we needed another goal, but I didn't think we needed four," said MacTavish, mentioning that he thought the Peca marker was possibly going to be the insurance goal.
Just over a minute later, Sergei Samsonov broke into the Ducks zone and made a nice drop pass to Steve Staios in the slot. Staios ripped it from the slot blocker side to make it a 3-0 game.
The Mighty Ducks disputed the goal, arguing Pisani was in the crease when Staios shot.
"Third goal, Pisani had both feet planted in the crease and our goaltender couldn't come across," said Carlyle.
After the goal, Georges Laraque made quick work of Todd Fedoruk in a fight to really ignite the Rexall Place crowd.
The Mighty Ducks started to get into some penalty trouble after that and the Oilers capitalized. On a five-on-three situation, Chris Pronger teed up a blast from the point that beat Bryzgalov blocker side.
To Anaheim's credit, they kept battling and didn't give up. Three goals in a span of four minutes changed the entire complexion of the game.
To get things started, Todd Marchant beat Roloson through the five hole but the puck squirted wide out the other side. Seconds later, O'Donnell beat Roloson on a screened shot to make it a 4-1 game.
Teemu Selanne scored shortly after to cut Anaheim's deficit to two goals. The Finnish Flash cut across the slot before firing the puck inside the right post.
Anaheim came within inches of making it a one-goal game. Roloson was able to get a glove on a Chris Kunitz shot just before it trickled across the line. The play went to video review before it was ruled no goal. After the play, the Oilers called a time out.
"We were struggling to stay into it and when you spend that much time in your own zone bad things are going to happen," noted MacTavish.
On the next shift, Kunitz had another chance to bury the puck and this time he made no mistake, slipping it past Roloson to cut the gap to 4-3.
Just when it looked like the Oilers were on the ropes, Fernando Pisani scored to put them back in front by a pair. Marchant beat Peca on the faceoff but the Oilers centre was able to get a stick on the puck to centre it to Pisani who wrapped it around Bryzgalov and make it a 5-3 game.
"It's a matter of being in the right position at the right time, sometimes the bounces go your way," said Pisani. "When you're battling out there, you got to find a way to win those battles."
After the Oilers' goal, Anaheim went back on the attack and was able to make it a one-goal game. Selanne fired the puck off the net cam to turn the final two minutes into a nailbiter.
The game got off to a rousing start with both teams trading opportunities and trading blows. Rob Niedermayer's shot from outside the crease just rang off the post behind Roloson for the best chance on either side.
Georges Laraque dropped the gloves with Anaheim's Todd Fedoruk three minutes in. Laraque had the edge in the bout, nailing Fedoruk with some quick lefts.
On the next shift, both teams dropped the gloves for a line brawl which really set the tempo for the night. The result of the skirmish was Anaheim receiving the extra two minutes.
Following the Anaheim penalty kill, Joe DiPenta and Ethan Moreau engaged in some fisticuffs. After some posturing, the two had a brief bout with neither combatant showing much of an advantage.
6:31 into the period, Fernando Pisani was sent off for hooking to put Anaheim on their first power play. On the ensuing man advantage, Teemu Selanne's blast from the slot was turned away by Roloson.
With 40 seconds left in the Pisani minor, Horcoff was sent off for delay of game to give the Ducks a two-man advantage. Edmonton's penalty killers came up huge, particularly Roloson near the end of the second penalty when he stopped Ruslan Salei and then Joffrey Lupul on the rebound.
After the penalty expired, Ryan Smyth
did some digging behind the Anaheim net and Horcoff found the loose puck in the slot. Bryzgalov made an outstanding save to keep the game scoreless.
Late in the period, Toby Petersen scored his first career playoff goal to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Bryzgalov went behind the net to play the puck but was checked by Rem Murray. Petersen picked up the puck and wrapped it around for the goal.
Anaheim had several chances to close out the period but Roloson shut the door.
Shots on goal after one period of play were 14-6 in favour of Anaheim.Shawn Horcoff
had a breakaway early in the second to try and put Edmonton ahead by two but his deke move was foiled by Bryzgalov.
Seven minutes into the period, Roloson denied Samuel Pahlsson on a shot from the right circle by kicking out his left leg.
Rem Murray broke in on the Anaheim net going one-on-one with Joe DiPenta. Murray went wide on the Ducks defenceman but couldn't shovel the puck through Bryzgalov. Laraque crashed the net on the rebound but Bryzgalov kept his pad on the ice to keep it a one-goal game.
With 8:30 remaining in the middle frame, Smyth and Hemsky broke in on a two-on-one opportunity. Smyth found Hemsky on the right side but Bryzgalov came across to make the save.
Later on that same shift Corey Perry was sent off for high sticking, putting the Oilers on only their second full power play of the night.
Steve Staios took a holding penalty late in the second period, giving Anaheim their fifth man advantage of the night. On the penalty kill, Horcoff and Smyth broke in on a two-on-one. Horcoff went wide on the Ducks defender and managed to get a shot on Bryzgalov.
After killing off that penalty, Anaheim's Samuel Pahlsson took a holding penalty in the corner to put Edmonton up a man.
Before the game, anthem singer Paul Lorieau pointed his microphone to the crowd as they sang O Canada... Raffi Torres was out due to the flu bug, meaning Toby Petersen was suiting up for his second game of these playoffs... Marc-Andre Bergeron returned to the lineup, scratching Dick Tarnstrom... Michael Peca's goal extended his scoring streak to six games... Steve Staios' goal was his first career playoff goal.