(SportsNetwork.com) - After a layoff of nearly two decades, the city of Winnipeg once again experienced what it was like to host an NHL playoff game. Unfortunately for Jets fans, they also experienced how it feels to watch the visiting team celebrate an overtime victory on your home ice.
The Anaheim Ducks spoiled the return of postseason hockey to Winnipeg with yet another thrilling comeback and will try to complete a sweep in Wednesday's Game 4 battle at MTS Centre.
Rickard Rakell scored the game-winning goal 5:12 into overtime on Monday to give Anaheim a 5-4 win over the Jets and a commanding 3-0 lead in this best- of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Winnipeg held a one-goal lead heading into the third period for a third straight game, but Ryan Kesler tied it with 2:14 left to send the game past regulation. Rakell would complete the comeback when he deflected a Francois Beauchemin slap shot past Ondrej Pavelec for the game-winner.
Anaheim kept the home crowd from celebrating a win in the first playoff game in Winnipeg since April 28, 1996, months before the franchise moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes. This edition of the Jets, of course, relocated from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 campaign and the franchise is still looking for its first playoff win.
The Atlanta Thrashers made only one trip to the playoffs in 2007, when they were swept out of the first round by the New York Rangers. The club then missed the postseason seven straight times before Winnipeg claimed a wild card spot this spring.
Only four teams in NHL history have dug themselves out of an 0-3 hole to win a best-of-seven series, but two of those occurrences have come in recent memory. The Los Angeles Kings did it last season in the opening round against San Jose, while the Philadelphia Flyers pulled off the remarkable comeback against the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2010 playoffs.
While pulling off the ultimate playoff comeback is obviously a long shot, Jets coach Paul Maurice believes there a valuable lessons to be learned in continuing to fight for a win.
"You don't learn [the hard lessons] unless you go through them," said Maurice. "And you don't get better unless you handle them the right way. That's what we're going through right now."
The Ducks, meanwhile, are hoping to close out this series tonight rather than host Game 5 at the Honda Center on Friday.
Anaheim, the top seed in the West and champions of the Pacific Division, set NHL records during the 2014-15 regular season by winning 33 one-goal games and also rallied for 18 victories when trailing at any point in the third period. The club is continuing the trend early in this postseason and is now one win away from reaching the second round for a second straight spring. The Ducks beat Dallas in six games during the 2014 conference quarterfinals before falling in seven games to the Kings in the second round.
Jakob Silfverberg finished Game 3 with a goal and two assists, while Kesler supplied a goal and a helper. Cam Fowler and Corey Perry also lit the lamp for the Ducks, who improved to 36-1-7 in one-goal games this season.
"They do have that innate sense of how to win," Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau said of his team. "They have great leadership in the room and never quit."
Frederik Andersen made 31 saves in the win. He has stopped 84-of-91 shots for a .923 save percentage in this series.
Andrew Cogliano contributed three helpers for the Ducks. Beauchemin finished with two assists for his 32nd career playoff point, surpassing Chris Pronger for sole possession of fifth place on the franchise's all-time point list and second place among defensemen
Tyler Myers, Blake Wheeler, Lee Stempniak and Bryan Little all scored in a losing effort and Pavelec stopped 26 shots for the Jets.
"We have some learning to do," said Wheeler. "Each game we've progressed a little bit in what we're trying to do ... Now it's about finding a way to push that over the edge."
This is the first playoff meeting between the Ducks and the current Jets. Anaheim swept the three-game season series in 2014-15, winning twice in Winnipeg prior to a shootout win at home on Jan. 11.