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Ducks point finger at selves for Game 3 letdown

by John Manasso
NASHVILLE -- The indictments of the Anaheim Ducks' play in a 4-3 loss in Game 3 to Nashville on Sunday came from all around -- team leaders and the coaching staff.

Coach Randy Carlyle might have been the most charitable in saying that the Ducks showed signs of being a tired team. Veteran Teemu Selanne was angry after the game, calling the performance "embarrassing."

Captain Ryan Getzlaf talked about a lack of mental preparedness.

"We need to be mentally prepared when we step on the ice in the first period and excited to be there," Getzlaf said. "We didn't feel like we were quite at that point when we started that hockey game."

Getzlaf did his best to rally his team by fighting Nashville's Mike Fisher late in the second period -- a sequence that sparked the Ducks to rally and tie the game at 2-2 entering second intermission despite having only five shots on goal halfway through the game. But the Ducks could not sustain that level of play and fell behind Nasvhille in the series two games to one with the defeat.

As much as Getzlaf, an Olympic gold-medal winner for Canada in 2010 and a 2007 Stanley Cup champion, asserted his leadership and had a positive impact on the game, he was still complicit in the turnover frenzy that gripped the Ducks. He finished a minus-2 on the night and has been a minus in each of the Ducks' two losses. The same is true of linemate Corey Perry, a leading Hart Trophy candidate, who was minus-3 in Game 1's 4-1 loss and minus-1 on Sunday. The third member of the Ducks' top line, Bobby Ryan, sat out Sunday's game with a suspension because of a kicking incident and also will sit out Wednesday's Game 4, the final game of his suspension.

Getzlaf, who played at better than a point-per-game pace during the regular season, has four points in the series, but a total of just one in the two losses. So the Ducks captain will need to concentrate on contributing more offensively while also helping to right the ship defensively.

"We just need to tighten up when we're in our zone," Getzlaf said of defending against Nashville's successful back-door plays on Sunday.

"We need to bring five guys down to the net if that's what it takes."

On Nashville's second goal, Getzlaf tried to pass the puck back to teammate Cam Fowler deep in his own zone but instead gave it to Nashville's Jordin Tootoo in front of the net, allowing Tootoo to score and make it 2-0.

Carlyle said he was surprised by the players that some of the key turnovers came from. Top defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, a potential Norris Trophy finalist, failed to clear a puck in front of the net, allowing Martin Erat to score the game's first goal.

"Yeah it did surprise me, but that again to me is the sign (of being tired)," Carlyle said. "But, again, you've got to give your opposition credit. They put pressure on. It's not just because we were flat. They forced the puck and they did a good job forechecking and they swarmed us for that and the only way you beat that swarm is you move the puck effectively around it and you can expect that's what (the Predators) are going to try to do on Wednesday night, too."

With Anaheim having the last change in each of the first two games played on its home ice, Carlyle tried to match up Getzlaf's line against that of the Predators' Sergei Kostitsyn, Fisher and Patric Hornqvist. In the first game in which the Preds had the final change, Nashville played each of its top three lines against Getzlaf's line.

"We can really play our top three lines against their line," Fisher said. "I felt like I played a little bit more against that line in Anaheim. They were trying to get that match-up, I think, but we're kind of a little bit all over (the map), which is fine."

Fisher has arguably been the best player in the series, as his five points (three goals, two assists) are tied for the League lead. He is plus-2 in the playoffs and has won more than 50 percent of his faceoffs in each of Nashville's wins, including 64.7 percent on Sunday.

During the 2007 Cup Final when Fisher, playing for Ottawa, faced Anaheim, he and Getzlaf also tussled. Fisher could not remember whether fighting majors were called and denied that any kind of history exists between the two.

"He's one of their top centers and my job is to not make it easy on him and play hard and I'm sure he's wanting to do the same," Fisher said, "and out of that you get some mix-ups."

Speaking again about emotion, Getzlaf said that was his intent.

"It seemed to work," he said. "We scored two (goals) after, so definitely the intent was to spark something and try to get something going. It was nothing that Mike did, by any means. Just kind of the situation. I just didn't feel like there was a lot of energy and stuff going for our group and down a couple of goals and not a lot of shots on net. Just something I could do to get something going."

Carlyle described Monday, a day in which he gave his team off, as a day of "woe." His goal was for his team to forget about the performance and refresh itself.

"Don't beat them up too bad," he said. "We believe in this group. We know they can play to a higher level than we did last night."

"You go through different ups and downs throughout the season and into the playoffs," Getzlaf said. "When you're playing in such big games at a high level all of the time -- and the last month has been that way for us -- I think when you're going through those stages and you come off a big win in Game 2 and travel down here and stuff, it's just one of those things that happens.

"It's not something you want to happen and we'll make sure we correct it on Wednesday."
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