Postgame: What they’re saying.

Ryan Getzlaf:

(On Nashville): They worked. They battled every night right to the very end. So did our group. One, two plays make all the difference. We couldn’t find a way to keep the puck out of our net. We scored enough goals to win it. They worked hard and got their bounces.

Teemu hit the post. That’s the way the thing goes. It was a tough game out there. … I thought the guys did a great job of staying in this hockey game, we just couldn’t find a way to get another one past him.

Teemu Selanne:

That was for sure a heartbreaker, but it was a pretty even game tonight. A couple mistakes again, cost us a couple goals. We couldn’t avoid those. For some reason, I think the whole series defensively we were not as good as we wanted to. It was not a problem to score goals. Too many mistakes really hurt us. I think that was the difference.

They’re a good team. they did a lot of good things. Their forechecking was really solid. Their D were pinching. Give them credit, we lost to a great hockey team. I felt that we can play in our level enough. That’s a disappointment. What are you going to do, it’s too late now. We gave everything we had but this time it was not enough.

Brandon McMillan:

(On his missed chance in the third period) It’s just a good play. we generated a good cycle. Generated the opportunity with me going backdoor. He made a great play, it was just a little bit in front of me. I could have tried to curl it, but I tried to get it off quick. It was just a little too far in front. I’ve got to try and just stop it and get it in.

They play hard defensively and they played a great game. they played well the whole series.

Randy Carlyle:

When you do an evaluation, and I talked about it a little bit yesterday, was that again, you cannot give up four goals an expect to win consistently. I thought we provided enough offense in the series but we didn’t provide enough defense. The game in Anaheim, them scoring with 35 seconds left, kind of put a dagger in us. You’re not afforded any mistakes when that happens to you. You’ve got to come back here for Game 6.

I thought we played hard. We were in the game. Scored first, got ourselves going in the game. Then for certain stretches we just laid back and I thought that’s what we did at the beginning of the third period.

(On Nashville’s play) It doesn’t matter who you play. We just fell short in some areas. I look at it and say that we played hard, we gave it everything we had, but it wasn’t good enough. We didn’t play good enough. There’s too many things that happened within the series that were negatives for us. The defensive side was not where it’s required to win consistently in the playoffs.

(On Selanne’s series) Nobody tried harder, nobody cared more, nobody did more in this series than Teemu Selanne. It’s an emotional time for him right now because of what happened, and there’s always that looming, ‘is this the last one?’ I’m sure he doesn’t want to go out feeling the way he does right now.

He did a lot. he was around the puck consistently. Late in the third, he hits the post, it goes inside post and goes across the goal line. McMillan had another great opportunity goes off the end of his stick on a pass out with an empty net. That’s what happened to us tonight. We scored enough goals to win. You can’t continuously give up four goals in a hockey game and expect to win.

Nashville 4, Ducks 3.

If it’s as easy to get open shots against the Ducks as the Nashville Predators made it seem Friday, you can toss goals like this, and assists like this, out the window. And you can toss the Ducks out of the playoffs.

With all due respect to Jerred Smithson (previous career playoff goals: 1) and Jordin Tootoo (previous career playoff assists: 2), the ending to the Ducks’ Game 5 loss was as inexplicable as it was stunning. Let the record show that Mr. Smithson caught the Ducks’ defense napping and deposited a pass from behind the net by Mr. Tootoo into the net to send the Ducks to the brink of elimination.

Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions.

My notes and observations that didn’t make the paper:
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Ducks 6, Nashville 3.

The Ducks played like a different team in Game 4 compared to Game 3. In part, they were.

Sheldon Brookbank, Kyle Palmieri and Brad Winchester came out of the lineup; and Andy Sutton, Andreas Lilja and Jarkko Ruutu went in — but the biggest difference in the 6-3 win seemed to be the Ducks’ resolve.

Goals by Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Brandon McMillan in the third period broke a 3-3 tie, and the series shifts back to Anaheim on Friday tied at two games apiece.

Goals by Cam Fowler and Saku Koivu staked the Ducks to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 5:14. Patric Hornqvist answered 34 seconds later for Nashville, and Joel Ward’s power-play goal at 5:44 of the second period tied the game at 2.

Teemu Selanne deflected a Getzlaf shot past Pekka Rinne with the Ducks on the power play at 11:41 of the second period to temporarily restore the one-goal lead. But Kevin Klein and Matt Halischuk caught the Anaheim defense napping, with Klein setting up Halischuk for the equalizer at 14:15.

A delay of game penalty to Nick Bonino with 31.5 seconds left in the second period carried over to the third period, and could have given the Predators the break they were looking for. Instead, Perry scored short-handed 1:17 into the third period to give the Ducks all the momentum they needed. Nashville put only three shots on Ray Emery (19 saves) in the entire third period.

The Ducks outshot Nashville 38-22 in the game, and Rinne wasn’t around to see the end of it. He was lifted for Anders Lindback after McMillan’s goal at 6:46 of the third period.

“We just felt that the way we played the other night, we needed a little bit more size on the back end,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We hadn’t played Sutton and Lilja in a while. We thought that some of our younger players — specifically Sbisa and Bonino … McMillan and Beleskey, those are all very young players — we just felt they would be more comfortable with a 6-foot-5 defenseman and another 6-foot-3, 220-pound defenseman on the back end.”

A few more notes and observations:
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Ellis likely to start; New third line?; Black Aces up.

Dan Ellis was the first of the three Ducks goalies to leave the ice at the morning skate. That’s usually a good sign that he will be the starter, as if the writing weren’t on the wall already.

At his post-skate presser, Randy Carlyle at once declined to name his starter and explained why he doesn’t: “I’m sure that Barry Trotz and his staff have dissected what all three of our goalies have done. They probably had to do more work because we know who’s going to play for Nashville.”

Meanwhile, the forward lines stayed the same:

Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry
Blake-Koivu-Selanne
Beleskey-Bonino-McMillan
Winchester-Marchant-Parros
Ruutu-Chipchura-Sexton

Brandon McMillan is definitely skating at right wing. I think I might have mistakenly penciled him down on the left side earlier, maybe because that’s the only position other than center he’s played in his first NHL season. Switching a productive two-way center to the right side in favor of another rookie (Bonino) who hasn’t scored a point in the NHL all season is a bit unexpected, assuming Beleskey, Bonino and McMillan are in the lineup tonight against Nashville.

Carlyle, of course, had his reasons.
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Ducks 3, Avalanche 2.

One second remained on the clock in a 3-2 game, a perfect time for divine intervention.

“All of a sudden the puck came out of nowhere and hit me on the side of the head,” Ducks goalie Dan Ellis said. “I heard it hit a post. I was just praying that it hit the right post. Thank God it stayed out.”

Indeed, in a game the Ducks had to win, Milan Hejduk’s late shot off the post might have been the turning point. Should Anaheim reach the playoffs, it will be a moment to remember. So too will Todd Marchant’s first goal of the season, Brandon McMillan’s game-winner, and Erik Johnson’s bone-headed giveaway that led to Ryan Getzlaf’s goal in the first period.

Often, the rest wasn’t pretty. Ellis finished with 22 saves but he was outplayed by his counterpart for the second time in as many games as a Duck. Peter Budaj made 11 of his 29 saves on the power play and could hardly be blamed for the Avs’ 13th loss in their last 14 games.

The Ducks snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time without injured goalie Jonas Hiller since Curtis McElhinney backstopped a 5-4 overtime win in Calgary. They remained one point behind the 72-point cutoff for the eighth and final playoff spot.

With the Ducks on the power play at 11:23 of the third period, McMillan broke a 2-2 tie, scoring on a putback after Budaj came out aggressively after allowing a rebound to the right of the net.

The rookie center was only out on the power play because Saku Koivu missed his third straight game with a groin injury. Yet he, Bobby Ryan and Jason Blake (and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Francois Beauchemin) turned it into a minute-long cycle play that wore down the Colorado PK with Brandon Yip serving a double-minor for high-sticking Beauchemin.

Considering the Ducks were outshot 23-19 at even strength –and only had one power-play goal to show for their previous six games –it was a badly needed goal.

“We found a way to score a big power play goal to win us the hockey game,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is what you have to do. You have to find ways to get points at this time of the year. Hopefully this is a springboard for our hockey club to get back to playing the way we are quite capable of playing.”

Marchant’s goal ended a streak of 70 games without a goal. The goal, the 186th of his career, came at the end of a give-and-go with Sbisa. The defenseman jumped up in the rush and backhanded the puck to Marchant, streaking down the slot; Marchant needed only get a sliver of stick on the puck to re-direct it past Budaj.

“It’s certainly the longest drought of my career,” Marchant said. “I’m not sure what it was prior to this, but it wasn’t anywhere near this. I didn’t let it get me down mentally. I know I’ve got many other roles on this team besides scoring goals. The bottom line is it’s about wins this time of the year. It’s not about how many goals or assists I get. It’s about winning hockey games, getting into the playoffs and see how far it takes you.”

A few more notes:
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Ducks 4, Edmonton 0.

So much for the concept of a “trap game.”

The rebuilding Edmonton Oilers banished any notions of upsetting the Ducks, who were coming off quality wins in Vancouver and Calgary, by sending a meager 12 shots toward Jonas Hiller — a new record for the fewest shots by an Anaheim opponent in a shutout win.

Bobby Ryan scored twice and Brandon McMillan and Teemu Selanne tallied goals as the Ducks completed a sweep of their four-game Northwest Division road trip. Their sixth straight road win is the longest active streak in the league and one shy of a franchise record.

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf had a pair of assists, on both of Ryan’s goals. All of Anaheim’s top three lines figured into the scoring. Ryan’s second goal of the game, at 1:31 of the third period, chased Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk (15 shots-11 saves).

The Washington Capitals pay a rare visit to Honda Center on Wednesday. By then, the Ducks could be playing for sole possession of first place in the division. Anaheim (32-21-4) and Dallas (31-19-6) both have 68 points, most in the Pacific, but Dallas currently holds the top spot by virtue of having played one fewer game. The Stars are in the midst of a 1-6 slump and visit Edmonton on Tuesday, when they will make up the game in hand.

A few more notes, courtesy of the Ducks’ PR staff:
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Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.

Cam Fowler’s goal with 18.6 seconds left in overtime allowed the Ducks to clinch a back-and-forth battle in a hostile environment.

Saku Koivu scored a pair of goals, Brandon McMillan scored short-handed, and Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal with 2:07 left in the third period sent the game to overtime tied at 4.

Curtis McElhinney got the start with a healthy Jonas Hiller serving as the backup. He got help from a post in the third period, a missed breakaway opportunity in overtime, and finished with 21 saves. Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross scored the Flames’ goals.

Calgary lost for just the second time in its last 10 games and suffered the same fate as conference-leading Vancouver two days before. Anaheim can complete the Western Canada sweep Sunday in Edmonton – an easy one to overlook but also the most winnable game of an otherwise tough trip.

A few more notes: 
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Ducks 4, Vancouver 3.

Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks didn’t ease into anything in Vancouver.

The captain played 21:45 in his first game since Dec. 28, and the Ducks used a big lead to help hold off the Canucks. Getzlaf’s only point was this beautiful assist on Bobby Ryan’s first goal of the game, which gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead at 4:12 of the second period.

He also made an impact on Dan Hamhuis, planting the defenseman dangerously into the end boards on this shoulder-on-shoulder check. There’s already a debate raging over whether or not it was a clean hit.

Ryan had two goals, Jason Blake and Brandon McMillan had the others, and Curtis McElhinney made 16 of his 36 saves in the final period.

A few more notes:
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Ducks 3, Columbus 2.

The Ducks will not play another game this month, but not by choice.

Anaheim wrapped up a four-game Eastern trip with another one-goal win, leaning again on their goalie to pull out a tough win in a hostile environment. The wins in Columbus, Montreal and Ottawa gave the Ducks six of a possible eight points on the trip, and brought their January record to 8-3-0.

Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler and Jason Blake scored goals, Blake his 200th in the NHL. Jonas Hiller had another monster game, finishing with 35 saves, including point-blank stops on Rick Nash and Anton Stralman point-blank in the third period.

The Ducks got a needed cushion when Derek Dorsett was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding Corey Perry in the first period. Selanne and Fowler cashed in with power-play goals 61 seconds apart and, just as importantly, Perry returned to the game before the period was over.

Nash scored before the period was over to pull Columbus within 2-1, but Blake’s insurance goal early in the third, on a beautiful backhand flip in front of the net, restored the two-goal margin. Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:54 of the third period cut the lead to 3-2 but the Jackets couldn’t convert with Steve Mason (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.

A few more notes:
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Toronto 5, Ducks 2.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere was ready for this one.

The most decorated goaltender in Anaheim history, playing his first game against his former team since the trade that sent him to Toronto last January, made 26 saves and outshone successor Jonas Hiller at the Air Canada Centre.

Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan scored the Ducks’ goals, the latter giving Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 5:23 of the second period. But Toronto scored four unanswered as the Ducks couldn’t stop the bleeding defensively. Hiller made plenty of All-Star caliber saves, but let in some relatively easy ones in stopping 32 of 37.

Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and linemate Clarke MacArthur added a goal and an assist. Phil Kessel had a pair of assists for Toronto, which was coming off a 7-0 loss at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.