(SportsNetwork.com) - A controversial no-goal call nearly resulted in the Calgary Flames falling into a daunting 0-3 hole in the Western Conference semifinals.
Instead, the resilient Flames will get a chance to draw even with the Anaheim Ducks on Friday when they host Game 4 at the Saddledome.
Calgary led the NHL with 99 third-period goals during the regular season and the club believed it had two such scores in Tuesday's Game 3 battle against the visiting Ducks. In the end, only one counted -- Johnny Gaudreau's game- tying marker in the final minute of regulation -- but it was enough to get the Flames to overtime, where they won the contest 4-3 on a Mikael Backlund goal.
The comeback victory cut the series deficit to 2-1 and gives Calgary a chance to tie the best-of-seven set tonight before clubs return to Anaheim for Game 5 on Sunday.
The no-goal call that had everybody talking came with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the third period when the Flames trailed the Ducks 3-2. Rookie Sam Bennett appeared to put a point-blank chance from the right side of the crease over the line before Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen kicked it out with his right pad. No goal was signaled on the play and a lengthy review confirmed that decision despite the fact that replays appeared to show the puck cross the line.
However, NHL executive Colin Campbell spoke with the Calgary Sun on Wednesday and explained why the replays don't always show the whole picture, especially in a situation like this when the view from the overhead camera was obscured.
"It's like a horse race -- you can't stand ten feet ahead of the finish line and determine who won a close race -- you have to be standing along the finish line," said the league's senior executive vice president of hockey operations.
Campbell added, "We don't use 'almost' or 'I assume' or 'I think.' We have to use conclusivity. It all depends on the call on the ice, and we have to prove the obvious."
Gaudreau, however, would come through with the tying goal after his fellow rookie's scoring attempt was denied by replay officials.
A pair of matching minors followed shortly after by a delay of game call on Anaheim's Sami Vatanen gave Calgary a power play, and they made it a 5-on-3 after pulling Karri Ramo from the net. With time winding down, Gaudreau skated down the right wing and held up before drifting below the dot and beating Andersen with a deadly short-side wrister with just 19.5 seconds to play in regulation.
It was the third goal of the playoffs for the 21-year-old known better as "Johnny Hockey." The Calder Trophy finalist's clutch goal would set the stage for Backlund's game-winner less than five minutes into the extra session.
The winning goal came with Calgary going to work after a delayed penalty call on Anaheim. The Flames pulled Ramo out of the net for an extra attacker and controlled the puck in the offensive zone, eventually setting Backlund up for a slap shot from the high slot that found its way through a maze of bodies for the victory.
"3-0, 2-1, it's a big difference," said Backlund. "This was a huge win."
Calgary exploded for four goals in its first home game of the series after getting routed by a combined 9-1 count in Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim. Despite the blowout losses in the early part of the series, the Flames gave themselves new life with the comeback win.
"That's what we talked about before the game," said Ramo, who made 18 saves in Game 3. "Win this one and we're right back in it."
Corey Perry, Patrick Maroon and Matt Beleskey all scored for the Ducks, who received 17 saves from Andersen in Anaheim's first loss of the postseason. The Ducks had opened with a 6-0 record after sweeping Winnipeg in the first round and jumping out to a 2-0 lead in this conference semifinal.
"No team goes 16-0 in the playoffs," said Beleskey. "We need to regroup and get ready for Friday."
Anaheim hopes to regain a two-game lead in the series by bouncing back on Friday to deal Calgary its first home loss of these playoffs. The Flames are 4-0 at the Saddledome after going 23-13-5 on home ice during the regular season.
Calgary defenseman Raphael Diaz played his first game of the 2015 playoffs after sitting out with a lower-body injury. Diaz, who played for the first time since April 2, logged 10 minute, 45 seconds of ice time in Game 3 and was a plus-1.
Forward Micheal Ferland, meanwhile, sat out a second straight game with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 1. He is questionable for tonight.
This is the second postseason encounter between the Ducks and Flames. The only other playoff meeting was in 2006 when Anaheim ousted Calgary from the first round in seven games.