The Edmonton Oilers hoped to ground the high-flying Anaheim Ducks for the second time in less than a week, but shot themselves in the foot with a soft second period.
Scott Niedermayer's three points sparked a three-goal outburst in the middle stanza as the visiting Ducks defeated the Oilers 5-3 at Rexall Place on Tuesday.
Sheldon Brookbank scored his first NHL goal and the streaking Ducks (39-32-6) skated to their seventh victory in the last eight games, the lone blemish being last Friday's 5-3 loss to the Oilers at the Honda Center.
Tuesday's triumph gives the Ducks 39 wins — one more than Nashville — and vaults them over the Predators and St. Louis Blues into seventh spot in the Western Conference.
The Ducks and Predators, 2-1 losers at Columbus on Tuesday, lead the Blues by one point and the Oilers and Minnesota Wild by three points in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth.
"We're in a group of five teams that are competing and battling for two positions and we're just giving ourselves a chance to live another day and that's all you can do," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said.
"We were not in the playoff picture for a while," Niedermayer noted. "We're just kind of focusing on playing well right now.
"We're just putting everything else aside, forgetting about the standings and things like that. Forgetting about who is doing what and just plugging away and that is what we have to keep doing."
Niedermayer broke a 1-1 deadlock with a power-play goal 33 seconds into the period, and assisted on goals by Chris Pronger and Rob Niedermayer to make it 4-1 through 40 minutes.
But Denis Grebeshkov and Zack Stortini scored 76 seconds apart to trim Edmonton's deficit late in the third period, and head coach Craig MacTavish demanded a measurement on Teemu Selanne's stick in a bid for a last-gasp power play.
The move backfired because Selanne's stick was legal, resulting in a minor penalty to the Oilers, and Rob Niedermayer scored his second goal of the game into an empty net to seal it for Anaheim.
"We had what we thought was some reliable information," MacTavish said. "On a visual, it didn't even look close to me.
"I was so sure that I made the call and it was, obviously, a terrible mistake. You have to be sure.
"I thought I had enough information, so it is a terrible feeling. It sabotaged what was looking like was going to be a heck of a comeback."
"You had better be 100 per cent sure," Carlyle said. "The curve is really something you cannot call any more because it is 3/4-inch and it is a big curve.
"Teemu is right on the edge. We make sure, and it is part of our trainers' responsibility that he plays with a legal stick."
'A lot of our guys played really well'
Andrew Cogliano opened the scoring and Tom Gilbert had three assists for the Oilers (36-32-9), losers in five of their last six games.
Dwayne Roloson finished with 20 saves, and extended his franchise record for consecutive starts to 33.
"A lot of our guys played really well," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said. "At this point in the season, if there is anything you can grasp on to, you do it.
"There were some positives, we got some help out of town and there are still 10 points available. I would like to believe if we continue to play the style of hockey we did tonight that we will have some success in the last five games."
Cogliano staked the Oilers to a 1-0 lead on a power play 10:04 into the first period, giving him 18 goals on the season.
But the lead lasted little more than four minutes because Brookbank beat a partially screened Roloson high to the stick side to knot it 1-1.
Scott Niedermayer put Anaheim ahead 33 seconds into the second period, scoring on a quick shot from the high slot on a tic-tac-toe play involving Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf.
Five minutes later, Gilbert was knocked backward by Bobby Ryan and inadvertently clipped the Ducks rookie in the face with his stick as he stumbled backward.
Gilbert received a double-minor penalty for drawing blood and Pronger capitalized on the ensuing power play, stepping into Scott Niedermayer's cross-ice pass and blasting the puck by Roloson at 5:13.
Rob Niedermayer surprised Roloson with a sharp-angled shot, beating him high to the glove side to make it 4-1 with 85 seconds left in the period.With files from the Canadian Press