Getzlaf is driving Ducks toward pivotal Game 5 with Oilers
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A decade after Ryan Getzlaf raised the Stanley Cup for the first and only time, the Anaheim Ducks captain appears to be extremely eager to hoist it above his head again.
Getzlaf’s spectacular postseason hit a new high point Wednesday when he figured in every goal for the Ducks in their 4-3 overtime win at Edmonton, getting two goals and two assists as Anaheim evened its thoroughly entertaining second-round series.
Snatching two victories from the teeth of a frenzied Canadian crowd is a remarkable achievement, but Getzlaf has the perspective of experience when he looks at where the Ducks are sitting as they head into Game 5 at Honda Center on Friday night (10:30 p.m. EDT, NBCSN).
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Getzlaf said Thursday after the Ducks returned to Orange County. “It’s all about our response for Game 5.”
The home team hasn’t won yet in this series, and the Oilers are 4-1 in California during their impressive return to the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring. Although the Ducks pulled even with Edmonton by remaining unbeaten on the road in these playoffs, Anaheim has never overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a playoff series.
And none of those metrics mean anything, according to the captain.
“I’ve been explaining this for 12 years, and I’ll probably explain it for 12 more,” Getzlaf said with an exasperated grin. “Home ice is home ice. You feel better in your building. Obviously, you feel more comfortable. But if you look back on history, there’s no rhyme or reason on whether you win or lose. It’s about going out and playing and executing, and the better team is going to win. It doesn’t matter what building you’re playing in.”
Getzlaf has executed at an extraordinary level in these playoffs. He has seven goals and six assists in just eight games, ranking second in the league in playoff scoring.
He has already matched his single-season career high for postseason goals, and he is dominating play with his usual superb passing and an aggressive two-way mentality. While longtime linemate Corey Perry struggled for most of this season, Getzlaf has been among the game’s best players since the All-Star break — even if he doesn’t get a wealth of NHL attention playing out on the West Coast.
“He’s been — pretty much night in and night out — the most dominant player on the ice,” Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler said. “He’s doing a little bit of everything. His stat line (in Game 4) was just ridiculous. That’s something that you don’t see very often, and to see it up close and personal was pretty special. It’s no secret to us or anybody that he can certainly lift us up and pull us along. When he leads, we follow, and when he is playing like that, it’s tough not to just give 100 percent of all your effort, because that’s what he’s doing, and he expects the rest of us to follow up.”
Here is what else is happening Friday in the NHL:
Predators at Blues, Nashville leads 3-1, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
The Nashville Predators face a historic moment. This former expansion franchise has never been a win away from advancing to the Western Conference finals, and now the team with the best start this postseason goes into Game 5 with a chance to finish off the Blues in just one more game than the four needed to sweep Chicago out of the first round.
“I think it’s what we’ve built for all year and what we’ve put a focus on all year,” Predators forward James Neal said. “We’re continuing to get better throughout the playoffs. Each game brings challenges, and we’ve been up for them each night. There’s no difference going into their rink and trying to close them out.”
The Predators already won Game 1 to steal home-ice advantage in this series.
“It’s in our own hands, for sure,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. “Being up 3-1 now, I think we can control our destiny.”
The Blues pushed Dallas to a seventh game in the Western semifinals a year ago to reach the conference finals. Coach Mike Yeo has hinted at changing up his power-play combinations after being pleased with his Blues’ effort despite losing Game 4.
“We knew this was a good team coming in,” Yeo said. “We’d like to be in a better position than we are right now, but we’re excited to take what we’re seeing out of ourselves tonight and take it to another level going back home.”
The Blues better find a way to create better offense against Rinne. They have led only 3 minutes, 51 seconds of this series, and that came in scoring late and winning Game 2.
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report.
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