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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Nashville 4, Ducks 3.

Playing without Bobby Ryan due to a league-imposed suspension, and without their best defensive game plan for reasons unknown, the Ducks needed to steal one to win Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Sunday in Nashville.

Despite trailing 2-0 late in the second period, and 3-2 early in the third, they nearly did.

Mike Fisher’s goal at 10:21 of the third period held up as the game-winner, and the Predators’ 4-3 victory put the Ducks in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.

Teemu Selanne scored goals 30 seconds apart late in the second period to erase the 2-0 deficit. With the Ducks trailing 3-2 early in the third period, Matt Beleskey re-directed a Saku Koivu shot past Pekka Rinne (13 saves) to tie the game again.

It was nearly enough for the Ducks to pull out the road win despite being outshot 37-16 and despite the absence of Ryan, who was suspended for Games 3 and 4 of the series for stepping on Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum.

Ray Emery (33 saves) held his weight against the barrage of shots, but some defensive-zone lapses by the Ducks did him in — Martin Erat took advantage of a poor clearing attempt by Lubomir Visnovsky on the game’s first goal; Ryan Getzlaf mishandled the puck just before Jordin Tootoo put it in the Ducks’ net; David Legwand and Fisher snuck behind the defense to score the Preds’ final two goals on Emery’s back door.

A few more notes and observations:
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Game 2 morning skate notes.

Count on Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle making more adjustments in Game 2 than his Nashville counterpart, Barry Trotz. That’s the expectation, at least, in light of the Predators’ 4-1 win in Game 1.

The first change figures to be in goal. Ray Emery was the first of the Ducks’ three goalies — four, if you include Igor Bobkov’s late cameo — to leave the ice at the morning skate Friday. Emery’s last playoff game was in this same building on June 6, 2007, when the Ducks beat Emery’s Ottawa Senators in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup.

There could be more changes in store for the Ducks, but Carlyle declined to say who would be coming out or going into the lineup, if anyone.

Trotz said he has some minor adjustments in store.
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Ducks 6, San Jose 2.

The only thing clinched at Honda Center on Wednesday was Corey Perry’s Hart Trophy bid. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Ducks’ surprisingly lopsided win over the Sharks did not ensure a playoff berth but was still badly needed. The Chicago Blackhawks temporarily moved into seventh place in the Western Conference standings with an overtime win against St. Louis. Calgary briefly matched the Ducks at 93 points in the standings with its win over Edmonton, putting further pressure on Anaheim to win its game in hand on the Flames.

The Sharks had been steamrolling everyone, but gently applied the brakes Wednesday after locking up the Pacific Division title two days earlier.

Gritty forward Ryane Clowe took the night off. Top players like Patrick Marleau (15:50), Dany Heatley (14:39), Joe Thornton (11:12) and Logan Couture (14:15) didn’t get top-player minutes. Backup goalie Antero Niittymaki got his first start in nearly three months — Jan. 13 was his last — and the Ducks took full advantage.

Perry completed his third hat trick this season (also the third of his career) in the game’s first 31 minutes, causing a mass litter of headgear on the Honda Center ice and pausing the Ducks’ onslaught at 4-1. The last of the three goals, a Perry-patented, long-armed flick of the wrist through traffic, made him the league’s first 50-goal scorer.

Teemu Selanne and Jason Blake added goals later in the period, and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler got his 10th of the season in the first stanza.

But tonight figures to go down as the night that M-V-P became more than just a loud exercise in wishful thinking.
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Stars 4, Ducks 3.

It’s never a good day when a coach is asked to recall an overturned goal that went against his team, and has to specify which one.

It hasn’t been a good weekend for Randy Carlyle and the Ducks.

Back-to-back losses to the Sharks and Stars have put their playoff plans on hold, and this one was frustrating on a couple counts. Namely, Teemu Selanne’s goal at 17:56 of the third period and Bobby Ryan’s goal at 19:11, neither of which counted in the eyes of referee Brad Meier.

Those tended to overshadow the goals that counted — by Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — and the fact the Ducks played like a group worn down by Saturday night’s loss in San Jose. The low point was probably a 5-on-3 shift spanning 80 seconds of the middle period during which the Ducks couldn’t get off a shot from within 20 feet of Kari Lehtonen.

Ray Emery (27 saves) lost his second game as a Duck, second game of the season, and second in as many days.

Tomorrow’s game story focuses on the reaction in the Ducks’ room to the calls by Meier, whose crew also missed a too many men on the ice call against Dallas in the second period. There was plenty of steam to be blown off, and Carlyle instructed his players to “do nothing” tomorrow — no practice, no golf — just recharge the batteries for another game against the Sharks on Wednesday, with a playoff berth at stake again.

A few more notes:
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Perry named NHL’s player of the month.

The latest accolade for Corey Perry might not be the last.

The Ducks’ right wing was named the NHL’s Player of the Month on Friday. He finished March with a league-leading 15 goals, bringing his league-leading season total to 46 and becoming just the
fifth NHL player since Jan. 1997 to score 15 goals in a single
month.

The first question he took on a national conference call was about what might be next: The Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s leading goal-scorer.

I don’t know if you can ever say that you’re going to win
it,” Perry said. “I mean, you have to have a lot of great bounces and teammates to
play with. I have to give a lot of credit to them. Recently it’s been
going well, and you know, I’m just trying to help the team win. That’s
all I’m worried about.

Perry’s 15 goals were the most in a single month in franchise history. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne previously shared
the record (Kariya had 13 in January, 2000 and Selanne recorded 13 in
November, 1997).

For the season, Perry is also tied for
first in the league game-winning goals (10, also Daniel Sedin and Alex Ovechkin).
He’s tied for fourth in points (89) and power-play goals (12), and tied for
eighth in short-handed goals (3). He also ranks second among all NHL
forwards in ice time (22:07), which is also first among all right
wingers.

You
just go into every game expecting to play well,” Perry said. “Things happened in
March that doesn’t happen very often. It’s one of those things where you
go out, you play your game, and you see what happens.
But you know, March was a good month, and hopefully there’s more to come.”

March was a good month for a few Ducks.
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Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.

Teemu Selanne can’t remember being part of a team that pulled out as many late wins as this group of Ducks. And if it hasn’t happened to the 40-year-old right wing, then it probably hasn’t happened here before.

The Ducks’ 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames was their second OT win in as many days and their fourth this month. Most importantly, it allowed the Ducks to reach eighth place in the Western Conference and dropped the Flames to 10th.

One night after Corey Perry scored off a clean snipe in overtime to beat the Kings, it was Perry again who got credit for deflecting Toni Lymdan’s slapshot at 2:38 of overtime to beat Calgary. Perry became the first player in franchise history to score overtime goals in consecutive games, and gave Anaheim overtime wins in back-to-back games for just the third time ever. Two have come in the last month.

What does it all mean?

“It just says that we have fight left in us at the end of the game, and we don’t just roll over,” Perry said. “There’s always a chance for us.”

The Ducks squandered an early 3-0 lead when Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal at 7:10 of the third period put Calgary ahead 4-3. But Selanne’s re-direction of a Ryan Getzlaf shot tied the game at 4 with 2:01 left in the third period.

“I’d like to see that we don’t put ourselves in that situation that many times,” Selanne said, “but it doesn’t really matter how you win the games, you need those two points. … Every point is so critical right now. It’s unbelievable how tight it is.”

And therein lies the value of the Ducks’ ability to bounce back. On Sunday the Predators needed overtime to beat Buffalo, while the Blackhawks got a goal in the final seven minutes to beat the Coyotes. On Saturday, seven of the 10 games were either decided by one goal, or two including empty-netters.

So unless your opponent is already looking to next year, it’s unreasonable to expect to win big in the NHL — or simply to believe that a 3-0 lead gained six minutes into a game will stand. Calmness under pressure is a virtue.

The Ducks remained calm even after Bobby Ryan couldn’t convert a penalty-shot attempt 2:34 into the overtime period, when he was tripped en route to the net by Calgary defenseman Steve Staios. It was Ryan’s second overtime penalty-shot attempt this month; he converted the first to beat Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings on March 2.

“Penalty shots are funny. Everybody thinks it’s either make or break, but it’s only one play in the game,” Getzlaf said. “It’s definitely an emotional play, but it’s one of those situations where we knew what we had to do.”

Getzlaf took the ensuing faceoff draw and won it by kicking the puck (literally, with his skate) out to Lydman for the game-winning slapshot.

Some more notes/observations:
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Vancouver 3, Ducks 0.

The Canucks have that look about them.

Seeing as many (if not more) Canucks sweaters than Ducks sweaters in the stands at Honda Center is one thing — chalk that atmosphere up to a rare Saturday-Sunday Kings-Ducks doubleheader that allowed fans to come down from Vancouver for a weekend of hockey and (mostly) sunshine.

The best magic is taking place on the ice. The last two days have seen Vancouver beat the Kings and Ducks each at their own game. Sunday’s 3-0 win required only 16 shots on goal and a strong performance by backup goalie Cory Schneider. Following his first shutout of the season, Schneider has a better goals-against average (2.14 to 2.21) and save percentage (.928 to .925) than starter Roberto Luongo.

Two goals by third-line center Manny Malhotra off a pair of Ducks miscues, and a power-play goal by Daniel Sedin that went off Andreas Lilja’s stick, proved the Canucks are more than just a two-twin pony. They outmuscled the Kings in a 3-1 win Saturday. On Sunday they frustrated Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan into submission (Getzlaf put 11 shots on goal but converted none), and took their chances with everyone else while capitalizing on a couple mistakes by Lilja and Cam Fowler.

It’s a good strategy against a Ducks team that is still missing two-thirds of its second line. Jason Blake (hand) and Saku Koivu (groin) have now missed back-to-back games. The Ducks did well to gain two points against two teams ahead of them in the standings, Dallas and Detroit, in their last two games.

Stopping the Canucks right now seems to be getting harder with every game. Are they the best team the Ducks have seen this season?

“They’re definitely one of them,” Getzlaf said. “The standings will show you that before you get on the ice. It’s not a trick in this league to get to the top of the standings, it’s hard work and they’ve been doing it all year.”

A few more notes:
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