In the third installment of our Ducks Throwback series, we’ll be revisiting May 5th, 2017. That fateful Friday night just might be the most famous date in Ducks history. No single game in Ducks history had provided such a miraculous atmosphere and outcome, and upon asking any Ducks fan, young or old, May 5th, 2017 would most likely be at least in their top five favorite Ducks memories.
Another Heated Battle
The Ducks and Oilers were in the midst of yet another close playoff series, almost emulating the 2015 Blackhawks games with how intense they all turned out to be. Game Five was to be a crucial one for Anaheim, but unfortunately, not all big games come easy. The Oilers burned them for three goals over two periods, and the final minutes of the third were winding down. How did the Ducks find themselves down and out from this game, and how did they get there in the first place? Let’s go back through the season.
Improving Every Year
Looking to wipe off the disappointment of their last playoff run, the 2016-2017 Ducks had another rocky start. Although it was an overall better performance, they still went 4-4-2 over their first ten games. The Ducks hung around through November and December, racking up some nice win streaks to help the cause. January would be their big month, and they were 28-15-9 by the end. And even after an ugly February, the Ducks broke through in March, and they had clinched a playoff berth by the 28th after winning five straight games.
They’d go on to finish the season with two great games against the Blackhawks and the Kings, and they had the esteemed honor of being part of long-time Kings voice Bob Miller’s final broadcast. It was an OT thriller that secured another Pacific Division championship for the Ducks thanks to a great goal by Shea Theodore. With that, they were heading off into the playoffs.
Even if it doesn’t pertain to the Ducks, it was a fantastic send-off for a fantastic career, and the hockey world has never been the same without Bob Miller. Thank you, Bob.
Meeting An Old Foe
The Ducks were set to face off against the Calgary Flames in the first round. They sat 4th in the Pacific at 94 points, and they snuck in via the 1st wild card spot. The less exciting news for them was that they would have to face the team that beat them in every game except one in their four regular-season games.
The Ducks would escape the first two games with one goal leads, and Game Three was almost deserving of its own article. The Ducks made a miraculous comeback down three late in the second period. After they tied it up with 4:21 to play, Corey Perry finished it off in overtime with his first goal of the playoffs. It was the first time the Ducks had come back from a three-goal deficit in their playoff history, but certainly not the last. Game Four would be the straw that broke Calgary’s back as the Ducks finished the sweep.
McDavid Against the World
Their next opponents would be a challenge that outweighed Calgary by a metric ton. The Edmonton Oilers of 2016-2017 were red hot all season long, and a powerful mix of veteran leadership and rookie scoring prowess lead them almost over the Ducks in the Pacific Division. The Ducks and Oilers season series ended 2-3-1 with Edmonton being the victors. The most notable star of the team was Connor McDavid, who was having no part of a sophomore slump. He racked up 100 points in just his second season in the NHL, and he’d take home the Art Ross, the Hart Memorial, and the Ted Lindsay all in one season.
The second round started in the worst possible way for Anaheim. They quickly found themselves down 0-2 in the series heading into a loud and rowdy Rogers Place. Luckily enough, the Ducks of 2016-2017 never found themselves out of anything. The Ducks walked into Edmonton and stomped on their hopes of a quick series after busting open Game Three and winning Game Four in another come from behind overtime game.
Game Five was yet again a crucial game for the Ducks, as they had the chance to take the series lead on home ice, just like in 2015. After such an impressive 0-2 series comeback, they had to put their best feet out in order to secure a more comfortable series.
Dead On Arrival
Unlike 2015, the Ducks did not come out strong. Getzlaf missed an opportunity on the penalty shot, and then Leon Draisaitl opened up the scoring for the Oilers on a feed by Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson. 1-0 Oilers at 19:45 in the second period. Then, to make matters worse, Mark Letestu and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped Connor McDavid burn the Ducks by bunting the puck into the net just two minutes later. It was his fifth of the playoffs, and it was an enormous insurance goal for Edmonton. The Oilers built a 2-0 lead.
The Ducks seemed to have a little life after a shot from Manson went past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, but sadly, it went in via a high stick, so it was ruled a no goal. The Ducks offensive woes continued.
Things seemed all but over after Drake Caggiula, McDavid, and Kris Russel put in Edmonton’s third goal of the period. 3-0 Oilers and fans headed for the exits. Three goals seemed insurmountable with just a little over 20 minutes left in the game. And by the time the clock struck four minutes in the third period, the Ducks were being roasted on a Connor McDavid fueled fire. But then, there was suddenly hope.
Hereupon the Goals Come Forth
Ducks goaltender John Gibson was pulled from the net for the extra attacker, and the Ducks had to start by breaking up the shutout. After two slap shot attempts, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler assisted Ryan Getzlaf in lasering the puck into the net, giving Anaheim a little life. 3-1 with 3:16 left in regulation.
Then, just a few seconds later, the extra man came back on, and Silfverberg and Corey Perry sent the puck to Cam Fowler, who then put it in again to make it 3-2 Oilers with 2:45 left. Was it possible for the Ducks to slot another in to make history?
With plenty of momentum, the Ducks were still trying to find the equalizer. The seconds were ticking down. 60 seconds to 40 seconds to 20 seconds, time was winding down fast, and then suddenly, chaos. A scramble in front of the net, two players bearing down on Talbot, time itself seemed to slow down. The puck was lost, the players were all trying to find it, where did the puck go? The puck squirted out from the pile of bodies on the side of the net, and Rickard Rakell decided to take a lucky backhander to try and slide it through.
Five-hole, through the pads, the puck crossed the line. The Honda Center crowd exploded, a roar of raw emotion poured out, even a Ducks legend in Teemu Selanne was found jumping up and down in sheer surprised of what he had seen from the crowd that night. The Ducks, who just three minutes ago had no pulse, were tied up and going into overtime. It was tied at 3-3 with a mere 0:15 left on the clock.
Finishing Off Right
In overtime, there were two great opportunities for each team to take the series lead, and after 20 minutes, the game went into a second overtime period. Was it going to be the Ducks to break through, who just made a historic comeback? Or would it be the Oilers, who were still reeling from giving up three goals after they had the game won?
The clock was about to reach the 13: 00 minute mark when Getzlaf and Rakell fed the puck to Corey Perry. The slot in front of the net was unguarded, and Perry skated right in.
“Getzlaf going in, Nurse tied up. Getzlaf, in front, PERRY SCOOOOOOOREEEES!” – Steve Carroll, Ducks Radio Broadcaster.
Corey Perry put it in, and the game was capped off perfectly. What started as a horror story for the Ducks on the night of Friday, May 5th, ended in the history books on the morning of Saturday, May 6th. And the rest, as they say, is history. 4-3 Ducks.
One For the Books
The 2016-2017 Ducks were a talented bunch, and they cemented themselves not only in Ducks history but in the NHL history books. Anaheim still holds the record for the only team to make a three-goal comeback with less than four minutes left in regulation. Much like the Kings having the Miracle on Manchester, the Ducks will always have the Comeback on Katella.
Even if they ended up falling just short yet again in the Western Conference finals to the Nashville Predators, they surely didn’t disappoint after breaking their Game Seven curse after beating Edmonton in the Semi-Finals.
The Comeback on Katella will live on forever not only in the minds of all Ducks fans but also in the minds of NHL fans across the world that were still awake to see it.
Statistics and Scored: hockey-reference.com Pictures: NHL.com and the Orange County Register
Author’s Note: I hope you’re all enjoying this series! Hard to believe that we only have two more games to go over before we’ve gotten through five years. 2016-2017 is my absolute favorite Ducks season, mostly because it’s what inspired me to start writing about the Ducks so avidly. I really put the most effort and care into this installment, and I hope that all of you Ducks fans are satisfied that I finally got to the Comeback on Katella.