Oil­ers fall short in Game 7, bow out to mighty Ducks

Edmonton Journal - - SPORTS - ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI rty­chkowski@post­media.com twit­ter.com/sun_­ty­chkowski

It was fun while it lasted. Fun?

Check that. It was the most amaz­ing spring Ed­mon­ton hockey fans have ex­pe­ri­enced in 11 years while it lasted.

But it’s over.

The Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers’ thrilling and in­spi­ra­tional joyride came to a heart-stop­ping halt Wed­nes­day night with a 2-1 loss to the Ana­heim Ducks in Game 7.

In a se­ries that few ex­pected the Oil­ers to win, they pushed the Ducks to the brink — but not over it.

In the end, a vet­eran Ana­heim team, de­ter­mined to change its his­tory af­ter all those Game 7 de­feats, re­fused to let Ed­mon­ton be­come the fifth team in a row to beat them on that stage.

They over­came a 1-0 deficit, tak­ing over the game in the sec­ond and third pe­ri­ods and will host the Nashville Preda­tors in the West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal.

But as CBC’s Chris Cuth­bert said at the fi­nal horn, “We have not seen the last of these Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers.”

A sea­son that began with many peo­ple won­der­ing if the Oil­ers could even make the play­offs saw the Oil­ers elim­i­nate the San Jose Sharks in the first round and go seven games deep in the sec­ond.

It hurts like hell right now, but the Oil­ers will be bet­ter for this.

For once, wait un­til next year sounds more like a prom­ise than an ex­cuse.

“I think we’ve shown ev­ery­body in the league and all the fans that we’re ready to go against these big teams,” Oil­ers de­fence­man Os­car Klef­bom said. “A lot of players stepped it up in the play­offs.”

If the Ducks didn’t know it be­fore the se­ries started, they def­i­nitely know it now: The Oil­ers are for real.

“They’re here for a rea­son, they’re a pretty good hockey team,” Corey Perry said.

Ana­heim’s talk­ing point be­fore the puck dropped was al­most unan­i­mous: They needed to get off to a quick start. They needed some­thing good to hap­pen early so the de­mons that have been ac­cu­mu­lat­ing like dust in the rafters af­ter four years’ worth of Game 7 fail­ures didn’t start float­ing down to ice level.

Then, just 3:31 into the first pe­riod, the un­think­able. The nightmare scenario. De­fence­man Shea Theodore com­mit­ted the car­di­nal sin of skat­ing the puck through his own crease un­der pres­sure, giv­ing Drake Cag­giula the chance to make it 1-0 with one flick of his stick.

That was the start the Oil­ers needed and they wore it well, rid­ing a 1-0 lead into the first in­ter­mis­sion.

With the teams that score first in Game 7s post­ing an all-time record of 125-42, it looked like it could be a fa­tal wound.

It wasn’t.

Ana­heim’s des­per­a­tion showed in the sec­ond pe­riod, which they con­trolled from start to fin­ish. They were all over the Oil­ers and fi­nally tied it on An­drew Cogliano’s goal­mouth scram­ble back­han­der at 8:55. The shots were 8-1 in the pe­riod at that point and 16-3 when the pe­riod ended.

It could have been worse, but Cam Tal­bot wouldn’t budge, giv­ing a team that was badly out­played a chance to come back and win it in the third pe­riod.

While mo­men­tum hasn’t car­ried over from game to game in this se­ries, it did from the sec­ond pe­riod to the third for Ana­heim in Game 7.

Nick Ritchie scored 3:21 into the third pe­riod to give the Ducks their first lead since over­time of Game 5.

The Oil­ers had 16:39 to try to find the equal­izer.

They couldn’t. Ed­mon­ton’s fi­nal as­sault came with their net empty and a face­off in Ana­heim’s end with 1:04 left to play.

SEAN M. HAFFEY/GETTY IMAGES

Cap­tain Con­nor McDavid and the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers were chopped down by Ham­pus Lind­holm and the Ana­heim Ducks in Game 7 as the Ducks cap­tured a 2-1 vic­tory on home ice Wed­nes­day at the Honda Cen­ter to win the best-of-seven se­ries and earn a date with the...

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