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All tied again, Ducks, Preds meet in pivotal Game 5

by Tal Pinchevsky

(Best-of-seven series tied, 2-2)


Big story:
In a series that has seesawed back and forth, the Ducks will welcome star winger Bobby Ryan back into their lineup as they host the Predators for Game 5 of their conference quarterfinal series -- but will be without forward Jarkko Ruutu, who was suspended for one game by the NHL on Thursday. Both games in Nashville saw the teams tied after two periods, with the end results very different. After losing 4-3 on Sunday, with Mike Fisher netting the third-period winner, the Ducks rebounded to score three third-period goals on Wednesday, chasing Pekka Rinne and evening the series with a 6-3 win.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville fell behind 2-0 early in Game 4 before coming from behind twice in the second period to tie the game. But a sloppy finish saw the Ducks outshoot the Preds 13-3 in the third, scoring three goals in a 5:29 span, starting with Corey Perry’s shorthanded winner. The offensive outburst forced Barry Trotz to replace Rinne, the first time he has been chased from the crease since a Feb 7 loss to Edmonton, a span of 31 total starts.

"All game I thought we were making just major blunders," Trotz said. "Poor decisions … we didn't go back hard to get pucks. We were making poor decisions and were not real strong there. We turned over too many pucks by our forwards in the neutral zone."

Ducks: Three nights after coming back from an early 2-0 deficit in Game 3, the Ducks blew an early 2-0 lead of their own on Wednesday. Teemu Selanne's power-play tip-in momentarily gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead before Nashville's Matt Halischuk tied the game thanks to a perfect set-up from Kevin Klein. But the offensive outburst in the third sealed the game for Anaheim, with the usual suspects leading the way. After being shut out in Game 3 and posting a minus-3 rating, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf responded with a goal and an assist in Game 4, including a dangling marker that effectively put the game away. With the series returning to Anaheim, the Ducks will welcome back Ryan, who served a two-game suspension after a kicking incident involving Jonathon Blum in Game 2.

"It's always nice when you get home ice advantage back and when you get one of your top guys back, too," Perry said. "It's nice to have him back and we've just got to be ready to play."

Who's hot: Preds winger Sergei Kostitsyn has 4 points in his last three games while Joel Ward and Patric Hornqvist both have 2 goals in their last three games. … Perry has been scorching for the Ducks, with 8 points in his last three games, while Selanne is the playoff leader with 5 goals.

Injury report:
Nashville lost Martin Erat on Wednesday after a hard hit from Ruutu that drew an interference penalty and a one-game suspension. He is out for Friday’s game. … Goaltender Jonas Hiller (vertigo) remains the Ducks’ only injury; Ryan will take Ruutu's place in the lineup.

Stat pack: If the Predators are to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, they will have to get over the hump in Game 5. Nashville has gone 0-5 in Game 5s, losing each of their last four by a single goal, including two straight in overtime.

Puck drop: Playing without Ryan was an unfamiliar experience for the Ducks. He played every game during the regular season and missed only one game in the 2009-10 campaign, a contest he was kept out of with flu-like symptoms.

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