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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Nashville 4, Ducks 1.

You can pick apart where the Ducks’ playoff opener went wrong: A Matt Beleskey penalty here, a Pekka Rinne save there, a missed assignment or two or three.

Corey Perry, always a man of few words, hit the nail on the head: “We just didn’t have it.”

As it turns out, the Ducks’ late-game magic is predicated on confidence. By the middle of the middle period they had none — confidence or magic — thanks to an outstanding performance by Rinne and the Predators’ disciplined ‘D’.

Even the 5-on-3 power play that preceded Teemu Selanne’s goal in the third period was a haphazard hodgepodge of starts and stops. Fortunately for the Ducks, he and Saku Koivu got it together in time to ruin the shutout.

But Rinne’s intimidation factor remained intact.

“We played really solid defensively and our strength is penalty killing,” said the 6-foot-5 goaltender, who finished with 27 saves. “We did a good job again tonight. We played big, we played physical in our own zone and tried to limit our turnovers. On the other hand, when they turned the puck over, we executed and scored some huge goals and got the momentum going for us. We’ll enjoy this game for a bit and try to get it done in the next game.”

Check out the game details, and a variety of reasons for the Ducks’ letdown from players and coaches, in tomorrow’s editions. Some notes and observations that won’t make the paper:
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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.

Ducks 3, Kings 1.

The roller-coaster ride is over. Now the fun begins.

The Ducks couldn’t be happier about their position after 82 games — fourth place in the Western Conference, and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first round — thanks to their win and losses by the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators earlier in the day.

The end result is that the Ducks will either host the Chicago Blackhawks or the Predators in the first round beginning no earlier than Wednesday.

“We found a way to get ourselves into a good position from thinking about where we were a couple months ago,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’ve got to credit our players; they’re the ones who put it out on the line night in and night out. It’s about a team that’s trying to work its way through all the hurdles that it’s been presented and now we have an opportunity to play at home.”

Here’s what the roller coaster looked like: The Ducks sat in third place in the West on Feb. 13. They fell as low as 11th and were there as late as March 8. They rejoined the top 8 on March 20 and did not leave. They began the day Saturday in seventh place and had risen to fourth by the end. Along the way there were subplots galore — skill, luck, 50 goals, 40-year-olds, vertigo — and it’s been fascinating to watch it all unfold.

The playoff scenarios are simple. If Chicago beats the Detroit Red Wings Sunday, the Ducks will play the Blackhawks. If Chicago loses, the Ducks play the Predators. That and more in tomorrow’s editions.

Here are a few more notes:
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Ducks 2, Kings 1.

The Ducks are going back to the playoffs.

Forty-year-old right wing Teemu Selanne virtually punched the ticket himself, scoring both goals for the Ducks, who can still finish as high as fourth but no lower than eighth.

Goaltender Dan Ellis made 23 saves in his first start since March 20, and the Ducks relieved the pressure to clinch in their final regular-season game tomorrow at Staples Center.

“It has been a grind for the last three months,” Selanne said. “I really believed that this team deserved to be in the playoffs. This was a big step forward. Now we can breathe a little bit. Tomorrow is another game where we can improve our standing a little bit and maybe get a better seed. We are going to take tomorrow’s game serious too.”

Check out all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. More notes and quotes to come …

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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Selanne awarded medal of recognition.

From the Ducks’ PR staff:

On Sunday, Finnish Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Pekka Lintu, along with wife, Mrs. Laurel Colless made an official trip to Honda Center to watch Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks take on the Dallas Stars. Following the game in a private ceremony, the Ambassador presented Selanne with “The Cross of Merit of the Order of the Lion of Finland.” The medal was awarded for Selanne’s outstanding role in promoting Finnish sportsmanship and values in the NHL.

The medal was granted to Selanne on Finnish Independence Day (Dec. 6, 2010) by Mrs. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland. Ambassador Lintu and Mrs. Colless traveled to Anaheim to present the medal to Selanne on the President’s behalf. It marks the first time a Finnish ice hockey player has received the Cross of Merit honor.

On Independence Day, the Finnish President acknowledges the work and achievements of individual citizens by granting medals and orders of different levels.

Sounds like a rare accomplishment, one that may supercede any awards Selanne earns for playing hockey this season.