The Ducks have crossed this bridge so many times they know every bump in the pavement.
The ultimate destination is quite familiar as well.
Five times in the last four seasons they’ve come home for Game 5 with a 2-2 split in a playoff series. They’ve gone on to win the series only once, in 2014 against the Dallas Stars, so there’s plenty of bad “mojo” to shake for this latest try Friday against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center.
But there is enough proof to suggest the drivers of this bus have improved navigation skills. It’s something that Ryan Getzlaf noticed late this season and, while the Ducks have said similar things in the past, their leadership is using past as prologue.
“That’s something we’ve built this year,” Getzlaf said. “This is 12 years now. I didn’t learn it last year. I learned it along the way. I think that everyone, as a group, took it upon themselves this year to experience things, grow from them and learn from them. That’s how you develop that. Not to get panicked, not to do those things, and you see the results.
“We’re learning how to deal with things better, whether it be bad penalties, whether it be giving up goals late. Whatever it is, I thought we were dealing with them a lot better throughout the second half of the season. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about controlling your emotions and doing the right things all the time.”
The Ducks came back from a franchise-record, three-goal deficit to win Game 3 of the first round, and erased a 2-0 deficit Wednesday to gain back home-ice advantage. That’s not saying much in a second-round series in which home teams are 0-4, but the Ducks seem ready for a series in which momentum shifts have been huge.
Cam Fowler acknowledged the steady demeanor kept by coach Randy Carlyle but also pointed to Getzlaf and fellow veterans Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa.
“The overall mentality of the team, I think, is more inside the locker room,” Fowler said. “Leaders that have been here. Guys who know there’s so many ups and downs … I think most of that comes from ‘Getzy’ and ‘Kes’ and ‘Juice’ [Bieksa]. These guys who have been on these long runs before.”
Getzlaf was a popular subject a day after one of the biggest games of his career. He was reunited with Corey Perry, whose 20-plus minutes of ice time were his most since Feb. 7. Perry screened Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot on Getzlaf’s first goal, a play that was reviewed for goalie interference because Perry made skate-to-skate contact.
Getzlaf noticed a change in Perry after the wing played 12 minutes 28 seconds in Game 3, his second-lowest ice time this season.
“He did a lot better job, I thought, around the puck and away from the puck,” Getzlaf said. “That makes a huge difference for everyone else on the line and a team and how we go.”
The Ducks likely will continue with the line of Getzlaf, Perry and Rickard Rakell if Patrick Eaves isn’t available Friday.
“I’d be foolish to be moving people away,” Carlyle said. “They scored [or assisted on] all four goals.”
Getzlaf set up Jakob Silfverberg’s goal 45 seconds into overtime to silence Rogers Place. The Ducks were 3-10 in games that ended in overtime in the regular season but are 2-0 in the postseason.
Rakell wouldn’t say that they’ve regained control of a series that has been defined by dramatic swings, shift to shift and period to period.
“It was tough when we lost our first two games, and obviously we feel a little bit better now, but it’s the same thing with them,” Rakell said. “They’re probably going to feel the same thing when it was still 0-0. They have nothing to lose. We feel we can still get better.”
There was no update on the lower-body injuries to Eaves, Bieksa and Ondrej Kase other than a day-to-day status, Carlyle said.
Kase, who left Game 4 with a lower-body injury after he was cross-checked by Milan Lucic, was expected to be further evaluated.
Korbinian Holzer returned to Germany to tend to a personal matter, a Ducks spokesman said.