It was a night with ignominious comebacks—like the New York Mets assembling two big comebacks only to lose to San Francisco anyway and thus completing the rare self-ass-kicking, and the Golden State Warriors attacking and nearly devouring a 29-point fourth quarter deficit to Dallas with the introduction of their Near-Death Experience lineup (Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Damion Lee, and Nemanja Bjelica).
But the best single moment of an evening of good leads gone bad was this third-period, oh-screw-it special by Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson that nearly tore the Canadian internet asunder.
Andersson was part of the Flames’ penalty killing unit trying to eat a too-many-men penalty midway through the third period with Edmonton ahead 3-2 after being ahead 3-0. He saw the puck come toward him, 132 feet away from the Oilers net according to GSC surveyors, and decided to do the prudent thing and clear it down the rink. Only he (a) put it on goal and (b) shocked Edmonton goalie Mike Smith, who didn’t see the puck at any point and heard it only when it instigated a collective WTF groan from the home crowd.
This is the equivalent of, say, Moody saving a ball from going out of bounds in front of the Warriors’ bench and throwing it over his head 80 feet and into the far basket—and we’re not quite sure that he didn’t do such a thing in the Warriors comeback. But like the Mavericks, who rallied from their torpor to win Game 4 semi-comfortably, the Oilers got two late goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the ubiquitous Evander Kane to win 5-3 and take a 3-1 lead in that series.
“I can laugh about it now, right?” Smith said afterward, only after visually checking with his teammates to make sure they wouldn’t leap upon him. At age 40, he has been part of the Oilers’ traditional Achilles’ heel of goaltending, the reason why all their great players always end up going home early. But they are now one win away from their first Western Conference final in 16 years, and while they will tolerate Smith smiling today, they aren’t likely to do so again.
But at least they’re not Mets fans, who stayed up past 1:30 a.m. to watch their boys complete their self-tracheotomy. Yeah, we’re looking at you, Roth.