The comeback is in the queue, maybe. Sault Ste. Marie goalie Brandon Halverson and shot blockers such as Tyler Ganly and Gabe Guertler bailed out Nick Ritchie and Anthony DeAngelo after an icing and over-the-glass delay-of-game penalty off the ensuing faceoff with 1:12 left. They dug in and weathered a late 6-on-4 from Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters for a 4-2 Game 5 win (with an empty-netter) to avoid elimination for at least 48 hours.
McDavid was held to to fewer than than two points for only the third time in the post-season.
On with the post-game questions:
Sault Ste. Marie 3 Erie 2 (Otters lead 3-2, host Game 6 on Saturday) — Were the 'Hounds convincing enough to suggest the tide is turning? The regular-season champs limited McDavid and mates to 25 shots against Halverson and rendered the Otters a perimeter team that had only two power plays, only one of which was earned.
The Jared McCann-Bunting-Sergey Tolchinsky troika was also a big factor again with a combined four points, giving them 10 across the past two games.
The 'Hounds also worked through the frustration after failing to cash in on seven minutes and 55 seconds of power-play time during the middle frame. Michael Bunting and Bryan Moore sniped in the third to secure the late lead. After the DeAngelo penalty, Guertler poked the puck away from McDavid in the final seconds and raced away for an empty-netter.
"We're going to go out there like we did in this one and bring it back to the Hound Pound [Essar Centre] for Game 7," Moore, an overage who had hit two posts earlier in the game, told Sportsnet 360.
It's the second night in a row a team had a world junior defenceman put the puck over the glass in the final 75 seconds while protecting a 3-2 lead. Kelowna's Madison Bowey did it against Portland in the WHL playoffs on Thursday and his team also got away unscathed.
How do the Otters rationalize missing their first chance to move on to the league final? The fourth victory is always the most difficult, eh? As so often happens when a team that is anticipating an opponent's max effort scores early, as Erie did with a Nick Baptiste snipe that came via a Blake Speers giveaway just 2:06 in, it's hard to sustain the effort. That proved to be the case, as Erie was largely outplayed, although it managed to take the game down to the wire.
Erie was taxed by spending a good 40 per cent of the second on the penalty kill, which preoccupied its top-enders. The core attackers such as Baptiste, McDavid, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, were due for some regression after running hot in games 3 and 4.
The upshot for the Otters is they will have last change on Saturday. Moreover, overage defenceman Kurtis MacDermid will come off suspension to fortify a defence corps that did look a little weary on Thursday. How MacDermid, a goood crease-clearer, acclimatizes himself could be an X factor now that the Otters only have double match point.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.