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Hebert, Wilson Patiently Waiting for Better Days

March 03, 1994|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Game No. 65 in the short life of the Mighty Ducks was a stinker, no question, but goaltender Guy Hebert could still manage a smile Wednesday.

After all, today is a new day, a day to forget a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens and former teammate Ron Tugnutt.

"A loss is a loss," Hebert said. "I don't think we had a very good game tonight."

There was no argument from Coach Ron Wilson, who was asked about the state of Hebert's goaltending since the Feb. 20 trade that sent Tugnutt to Montreal in exchange for forward Stephan Lebeau.

"He wasn't very sharp tonight," Wilson said. "I'm not overly concerned."

Then he paused.

"Well, I'm concerned," Wilson continued. "He's gotta stop three or four of their goals."

In four starts since the trade, Hebert is 1-3 and has given up 16 goals. He went into Wednesday's game with a 2.88 goals-against average in 38 games.

It's March, a playoff berth is close at hand and every pass, every shot means so much more now.

A bad bounce here and a goal for the opposition, even if it happened to be the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the Ducks could miss out.

Montreal's Brian Bellows scored through a screen in the first period. Ed Ronan fired a slap shot that somehow slipped through Hebert's pads and into the net in the second period. Mathieu Schneider slapped another shot through Hebert's legs in the third and Montreal had a victory.

"I've been thinking of changing pads for a while," Hebert said, then realizing how that sounded, added, "I mean that's a sad excuse, but you know. . . .

"I have no idea how a couple of those pucks got by me. I was in good position on all of them (the three soft goals). Both (through the legs shots) hit me solid. I saw the puck all the way through."

Tugnutt's return surely meant more to Tugnutt and Lebeau, the former Canadien who played for the first time in Anaheim Arena. It was not a distraction for Hebert, however, and certainly no reason to fret over the result.

"I'm very happy where I am (in Anaheim)," Hebert said. "Maybe he won the battle tonight, but maybe I'll win the war."

The trick now is to focus on making the playoffs without cracking from the pressure.

It might have accounted for the Ducks' flat offensive play against the Canadiens, Hebert said.

"Maybe as a team we were squeezing the stick too tight," he said. "This is my first taste of playing on a team that was not expected to make the playoffs."

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