Either way, the Ducks go home after playing the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
They could be returning to Anaheim to get ready for Game 7, with chance to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or they could be headed back to tie up loose ends and for chitchat about tee times and family vacations.
“If you don’t recognize the situation going into this game, then there is something wrong with you,” forward Bobby Ryan said.
The Ducks were 36 seconds from taking a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series Friday when Nashville’s Shea Weber scored, sending the game into forcing overtime. Jerred Smithson then won it, and the Predators headed back to Nashville needing only a win to advance.
The Ducks’ Teemu Selanne arrived south of the Mason-Dixon Line with a line from “Forrest Gump” to describe his team, a group from which you never know what you’re going to get.
“Ducks hockey, it’s like a box of chocolate,” he said.
The Ducks have found a variety of ways to test themselves this season.
“It seems like we have to do everything the hard way,” Selanne said. “It’s almost like the story line.”
So Selanne said Saturday “was a day to flush things out, physically and mentally.”
Nashville, meanwhile, is well into Neverland.
The Predators had never won a Game 5 in the playoffs … until Friday.
They had never won a playoff overtime game … until Friday.
They had never been so close to advancing to the Western Conference semifinals … until now.
“We still have some work to do,” Smithson said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’re not done yet, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
Go (to) Finland
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which had countryman Selanne singing his praises Saturday.
Selanne also had an idea.
“Finland is in the world championships right now and all the talk is how they need a goalie,” Selanne said, smiling. “I know of one who can go over there right now.”
Bobby Ryan’s do-a-double-take goal Friday, when he had Nashville’s David Legwand spinning like a puppy chasing its tail, brought responses from all over.
“I got off the airplane and I had 40 text messages,” Ryan said. That included one from the Kings’ Dustin Brown.
The goal, destined to be replayed over and over, put a better face on Ryan’s playoff performance. He has scored three goals but was suspended for two games for stomping on Jonathon Blum’s foot.
“It was pretty cool, the messages,” Ryan said. Still, he added, “I write back all moot point when you lose the game.”
Ryan also was overwhelmed by Twitter messages.
“It was almost too much,” he said. “It’s a nice reaction from fans, and it is nice change from the comments I got in the past week.”
Predators forward Martin Erat, who sat out Game 5 after he was leveled by the Ducks’ Jarkko Ruutu in Game 4, did not practice Saturday and is not expected to play Sunday.