The Nashville Predators roared back once more, but it was the Anaheim Ducks who got the final shot.
After the Predators tied the score with less than a minute to play, Corey Perry got credit for the winner in overtime as the Ducks defeated the Predators, 3-2, to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece. The loss snaps Nashville's 10-game home postseason win streak and sees them faced with a 2-2 series for the first time in these playoffs.
Nashville looked like themselves during the second and third period, as well as points in the extra session, but a slow start gave Anaheim the chance to take a lead, forcing the Preds to chase from behind in a game where they never had the advantage on the scoreboard.
"The guys know what we're capable of, and there's a standard to which we measure ourselves and how we need to play, and we weren't close to it [in the first period]," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We got going in the second period and at least competed better. We lost the period, but I thought we competed better and started to press more. And then in the third period we really got going. But, you know, it's about consistency. And we could have been better in the first."
The Predators were outshot by a 15-2 count in the first period, and Anaheim also led where it mattered, thanks to a goal from Rickard Rakell for a 1-0 lead after one. Nashville had plenty more chances at the Ducks in the second stanza, but it was Nick Ritchie who got the only goal, doubling Anaheim's lead after 40 minutes.
But if the Predators have shown anything in these playoffs, they're never quite out of it.
Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Subban rips a goal through screen
First, it was P.K. Subban who blasted home his second of the postseason to give the Preds - and the crowd - a burst of life. Then, Nashville got a 5-on-3 power play, seemingly inevitable that they would tie the game. However, the Ducks managed to kill it off, forcing the Preds to pull goaltender Pekka Rinne for an extra attacker.
And then, with 35 seconds to play, Filip Forsberg poked home a loose puck past John Gibson to send Bridgestone Arena into a frenzy.
Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Forsberg ties game in final minute
Nashville came out flying once more in overtime, but Anaheim withstood the push, and Perry ended it halfway through the extra session.
"Tonight, they threw one at the net and somebody deflected it in," Rinne said. "It happened fast. That's how it is usually in OT. It's too bad it went this way."
"They're a good team, so we know every game's going to be a battle," Subban said. "I think if there's a positive that we showed tonight, it's that when we want to play our game we can't be stopped. I thought we did a good job in the third period of battling back and giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game. We had chances in overtime that didn't go our way."
The Predators will now head back to Anaheim for Game Five to continue what has turned into a best-of-three series to determine who will represent the Western Conference for a chance at the ultimate prize.
And as far as the Preds are concerned, Game Four needs to be forgotten quickly.
"It kind of has to be behind us already, and we have to focus on the next one," Rinne said. "That's a missed opportunity, but we battled back, and obviously didn't have a good start. Not a good first period. But we battled back and showed a lot of character."
"It's the playoffs - you have to move on," Forsberg said. "It's a big game coming up on Saturday and that's what we're going to focus on right now."
Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Clarkson, Kings of Leon fire up crowd
Attendance inside Bridgestone Arena for Game Four was 17,423, a hockey record for the building.
Filip Forsberg has scored in four consecutive playoff games, a Nashville franchise record. Forsberg is now tied with Joel Ward for most goals in a single Nashville postseason with seven.
Game Five between the Preds and the Ducks will take place on Saturday evening from Anaheim, a 6:15 p.m. CT start. The series will then come back to Nashville for Game Six on Monday night at 7 p.m. CT.