Ruutu, Carlyle address suspension.

Jarkko Ruutu made it clear Friday that he didn’t want to cause a stir with anything he said about his one-game suspension.

The Finnish forward nearly took a line straight out of the Mark McGwire Congressional Testimony transcript, saying “what happened yesterday, happened yesterday.”

Asked specifically if he had a reaction to his one-game, league-imposed ban for tonight’s Game 5, Ruutu replied, “I don’t think it really matters what I think. It’s a team game. One guy is out, another guy is in. In the end, the only thing that really matters is how we do tonight. That’s how I see things. Let’s move on.”

Ruutu did offer up a couple specifics about the hearing: It lasted about five minutes, and his status as a repeat offender (he received a pair of two-game bans during the 2008-09 season) did not come up in the conversation with the NHL. So there goes one theory about why Ruutu was forced to sit for a hit that Randy Carlyle didn’t think deserved a hearing.
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NHL suspends Ruutu for Game 5.

Jarkko Ruutu will be forced to sit out Game 5 of the Ducks’ first-round playoff series Friday as a result of his hit on Predators forward Martin Erat in Game 4 Wednesday in Nashville.

Unlike the league’s two-game suspension of Bobby Ryan earlier in the series, no explanation was offered Thursday in the form of a quote from disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Here’s how the full press release read:

Anaheim Ducks forward Jarkko Ruutu has been suspended for one game for
delivering a late hit to Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat in Game
Four of their Western Conference quarterfinal last night, the National
Hockey League announced today.

The incident occurred 4:00 into the second period and Ruutu was assessed a minor penalty for interference on the play.

Ruutu’s suspension will be served tomorrow night (April 22) when the Ducks host the Predators in Game Five of the series.

And here’s what the hit looked like. Judge for yourself:


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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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Ducks will open 2011-12 in Helsinki.

Teemu Selanne has heard the “one more year” chants from the fans. Now he might be hearing it from the NHL.

The league probably wouldn’t mind seeing the Finnish Flash on the ice in an Anaheim uniform, rather in the stands, when the Ducks open the 2011-12 regular season in Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 7.

The Ducks were one of four teams (the Sabres, Kings and Rangers are the others) chosen to take part in the “NHL Premiere” and “NHL Face-Off,” a now-annual tradition of opening the season overseas. It’s the first time the Ducks have started a season in Europe since back-to-back games against the Kings in London to open the 2007-08 season.

The European schedule begins with an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 4 against Jokerit of the SM-Liga at Hartwall Arena. After the Friday game against the Sabres, the Ducks play the Rangers in Stockholm on Oct. 8.

The Ducks roster currently features three other Finns, Saku Koivu, Jarkko Ruutu and Toni Lydman. Only Koivu and Lydman are signed beyond this season, however.

After winning the second of the two London games in 2007, the Ducks lost eight of their next 11. Then-GM Brian Burke later said he would have chosen the team’s post-European schedule differently, and it will be interesting to see how Bob Murray does it this time around.

Kings 3, Ducks 2.

Wednesday was a long day for the Ducks.

Jonas Hiller said he’s got vertigo, Timo Pielmeier was demoted to Syracuse, Ray Emery was flown in to Anaheim, Curtis McElhinney earned another start, Saku Koivu tried to play despite a groin injury but sat, Ryan Getzlaf tried to play but his wife gave birth so he sat out too, and then the Ducks lost 3-2 to the Kings.

Time to breathe now.

A one-goal loss to the Kings was about the most uplifting way to extend a losing streak to four games, short of earning a point in overtime or a shootout. Figure that with Getzlaf and Koivu in the lineup, Jarkko Ruutu isn’t starting the game on the top line; the Ducks are putting more pressure on Jonathan Quick and not relying on a pair of deflections to constitute their offense; and certainly Bobby Ryan and Brandon McMillan aren’t dressing as the No. 1 and 2 centers.

“I think we played good enough to win the game,” Teemu Selanne said, and against a team that isn’t as hot as the Kings (9-1-3 in their last 13 games), he’s probably right.

Here’s the game story, and here are a few details I left out:
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Blues 9, Ducks 3.

In a battle of field goals, the Ducks got their rear ends kicked.

The final scoresheet tells the story: The Blues wasted through Curtis McElhinney (11 shots, 7 saves) and Timo Pielmeier (12 shots, 7 saves) — who closed out the final two periods in his NHL debut — with equal fervor.

Goals by Jarkko Ruutu and Teemu Selanne in the game’s first 6:41 gave Anaheim an unmemorable 2-0 lead. The Blues scored four more before the first period was over, interrupted only by a Ryan Getzlaf wrist shot that ended Ty Conklin’s evening. The bleeding continued as Chris Stewart, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald all wrapped up two-goal efforts. Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo and David Backes scored one apiece, and backup backstop Ben Bishop (20 shots, 20 saves) was perfect in relief of Conklin (5 shots, 3 goals).

The question now for the Ducks is, who can stop the bleeding?

A backup throughout his four-year NHL career, McElhinney clearly has hit the ceiling in his short time as a starter. In losing three consecutive starts, he’s allowed 16 goals on 68 shots — a miserable .765 save percentage and 6.90 goals-against average. Pielmeier wasn’t much better, though the 21-year-old was probably only viewed as an emergency option when he was recalled earlier in the week from AHL affiliate Syracuse.

Consider this an emergency.

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Minneosta 5, Ducks 1.

The Ducks’ momentum officially took a turn for the worse Friday.

If the excuse of a back-and-forth game against a high-scoring Washington Capitals squad served as an excuse in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss in Anaheim, it was tougher to justify a 5-1 loss on the road to Minnesota. Corey Perry deflected a Bobby Ryan shot past Niklas Backstrom 3:30 into the game, but the Wild answered with five straight – including two on the power play and one short-handed – to ice the game.

Curtis McElhinney stopped 21 of 26 shots and looked no less vulnerable Friday than he did two days earlier. He allowed goals on consecutive shots by Eric Nystrom and Kyle Brodziak 27 seconds apart in the second period, making it a 4-1 game, and prompting Randy Carlyle to call timeout. Carlyle allowed his goalie to stay in, but one has to figure that the leash on McElhinney is a bit shorter now. Timo Pielmeier served as the backup for the second straight game, and he might well be the starter tomorrow night when the Ducks visit St. Louis.

Former Duck Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota. Koivu scored at 5:01 of the first period, then blocked an Andy Sutton shot at 7:09 and didn’t return. But the Ducks (32-23-4) couldn’t take advantage of a Wild squad (31-22-5) missing its best player.

The back-to-back losses mean the Ducks are still stuck in the same 68-point logjam at the bottom of the tight Western Conference playoff picture.

A few more notes:
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Ducks acquire Ruutu from Ottawa. Updates with Ruutu comments.

The Ducks acquired Ottawa Senators tough guy Jarkko Ruutu in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft Thursday. The Finnish left wing will not be able to join the team right away until he obtains a work visa.

In the meantime, Ruutu told reporters on a conference call that he’s just happy to be joining a playoff-contending team. The rebuilding Senators, mired in last place in the Eastern Conference, have also traded veteran forwards Chris Kelly and Mike Fisher in the past week.

“I’m excited to go to Anaheim,” Ruutu said. “They have a good team, a couple Finnish guys, too. … When you re out of the playoffs, you’re not really playing for anything. Suddenly you get traded to a team that’s been plaing really well lately, it’s really exciting for me.”

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