The Nashville Predators' first-ever trip to the conference finals will have to wait at least a little longer.
The St. Louis Blues, desperate to avoid elimination in Game 5 Friday night, quieted a streaking Preds offense and did just enough against Pekka Rinne to stay alive in the Western Conference, claiming a 2-1 win and sending their 3-2 series back to Nashville.
The real story of the night, however, came in the battle for a chance to take on either Nashville or St. Louis, as the Edmonton Oilers seemed well on their way to taking a 3-2 series lead but coughed up a 3-0 lead in the final three minutes of regulation, then fell victim to the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3, in a double-overtime thriller.
With another night of postseason action in the books and plenty more on the way, here are a few things to note:
There are more questions than answers in the ridiculous Ducks-Oilers series
If there's one thing we can say for certain in the 2016-17 Stanley Cup playoffs, it's that you can never be too careful when crowning Edmonton. This is a team that lost 7-0 to the San Jose Sharks in the opening round and surrendered 10 Ducks goals in the two games leading up to Friday night's bout.
And, now, it is also the team that, despite a 3-0 lead with 3:16 to play in a crucial Game 5, surrendered back-to-back-to-back goals en route to an overtime clash, endured one OT period, then saw a potential series lead vanish in heartbreaking fashion thanks to a double-OT score from the Ducks' Corey Perry.
Connor McDavid and the young, fast Oilers -- to put it simply -- looked really young, really fast and really good against an overwhelmed Anaheim favorite through just about all three of Game 5's periods.
In fact, a scoreless first period preceded an Oilers clinic, in which Cam Talbot had the benefit of Grade-A blue-line work from Edmonton's defensemen, Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks were hardly ever able to generate consistent traffic in front of the net and McDavid's crew unleashed its latest dose of offensive highlights to go up 3-0.
But things changed in a hurry when Getzlaf put Anaheim on the board in the waning minutes of the contest to kick off an improbable comeback, capped in regulation with a debatable goal.
McDavid's puck deflection for a goal earlier in the night was a fun sight:
Seriously. Is there anything @cmcdavid97 can't do? #StanleyCup#EDMvsANApic.twitter.com/FGGZ5Sj6cD— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2017
Even better was this near-4-on-1 race to the Ducks net, a scene symbolic of the night the Oilers had against their Pacific Division rivals -- up until the final three minutes of regulation:
Another McDavid set up. Another @drakecaggiula finish.— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2017
The @EdmontonOilers are cruisin'. #StanleyCuppic.twitter.com/jTEFw5zS5M
And yet Friday belonged to Anaheim, which got some push-back from a gritty Edmonton team in OT but ultimately came away big winners.
Now, with an Oilers elimination on the line in the next go-round, there are too many questions to list after one of the wildest games of this postseason, including ...
How could Ryan Kesler's not-so-subtle contact with Talbot on Anaheim's third goal not warrant an interference call?
3:16 left, it was 3-0.— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2017
15 seconds left, tie game.
What. A. Finish. #StanleyCuppic.twitter.com/QzsYu3w91i
Regardless of the controversial non-call on the tying goal, how, after 56:44 of shutting out Anaheim, did the Oilers completely lose steam and a three-goal lead?
How, in the final three minutes of regulation, did they also not score a single goal against the Ducks' empty net?
How, after the Oilers' monumental collapse, did Talbot proceed to stand tall and eclipse 60 -- yes, 60 -- saves on the night before the Ducks' game winner?
And, most importantly, how will Edmonton respond to a loss of such epic proportions? And how will Anaheim build off an incredible finish to a series-changing victory with the conference finals in its sights?
The Blues did exactly what they needed to do, but can they do it again?
Actually, St. Louis did more than enough to top Nashville in Game 5.
If not for some nifty work from Rinne, the Blues could easily have made Friday's victory a multi-goal decision. Big-time scores from both Jaden Schwartz and Dmitrij Jaskin were about as impressive as Jake Allen's 21-save night in the net for St. Louis.
Finishing with 25 blocks and limiting the Predators to 22 shots on goal -- and, of course, a single score from James Neal -- is another credit to Mike Yeo's on-the-brink underdogs.
Even if the power-play magic of Nashville's lone goal is deserving of a replay or two:
That power play. Wow. #StanleyCup#NSHvsSTLpic.twitter.com/BppvPzWOSB— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2017
What a second win for the Blues does is, perhaps more than anything, delay the Predators' impending move past the second round. That doesn't mean St. Louis lacks the winning formula, because it was on full display Friday night. It just means the Blues would have to muster a whole lot of strength to win their way two more times.
Remember, Nashville is still 7-2 in its last nine games and boasts a plethora of standout scorers to threaten anyone left in the postseason. It's not every game, as we've seen already in this series, that Allen is going to be able to contain the Preds' depth, that the Blues can depend on such offensive balance of their own, and that St. Louis won't get penalized for this type of bench action:
What is this? This was just going on during play. #Predspic.twitter.com/B9HEvV1NPs— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) May 6, 2017