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Mighty Ducks Can't Contain Penguins : Hockey: Pittsburgh breaks through in the third period to win, 5-2.

October 15, 1995|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PITTSBURGH — When Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr are taking turns ruling a sheet of ice, the other team had best be cautious and composed.

That's what the Mighty Ducks were for most of two periods against the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night. They kept penalties to a minimum, allowing Guy Hebert to withstand shots from a power-play unit that features Lemieux, Jagr, Ron Francis and Tomas Sandstrom.

But the Ducks could neutralize Pittsburgh's potent lineup for only so long--consider limiting Lemieux to three assists a success--as the Penguins overwhelmed the Ducks in the third period to win, 5-2, in front of 15,809 in the Civic Arena. The Penguins scored three goals in the third, two in the final 10 minutes.

Lemieux remains three goals from reaching 500 for his career. (He will become the second-fastest to do so. Wayne Gretzky was first.) But he increased his scoring total in the four games--after returning from an 18-month layoff following back surgery and treatment for Hodgkin's disease--to 11 points, second best in the NHL.

It was Jagr, though, who dominated the game, once carrying the puck in one huge circle behind the Ducks' net and completely around their zone, just because he could. Jagr scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season, the first when Francis found him open in the slot for a 1-0 lead 4:46 into the second period. His second capped the evening when he muscled the puck into the net through a crowd of skates from beside the net at 16:39 of the third on Pittsburgh's fourth and final power play.

Pittsburgh led, 2-1, after two periods. The Ducks' Steve Rucchin tied the score off a pass from Denny Lambert on a three-on-two rush at 13:24 of the second. The goal was the fourth in four games for Rucchin, a second-year pro who Duck Coach Ron Wilson says has been "easily our best two-way forward."

But an elbowing penalty against the Ducks' Randy Ladouceur sent Pittsburgh on a power play seconds later, and Sandstrom scored the first of his two goals at 14:04 by swiping at the rebound of Francis' shot after Duck defenseman Robert Dirk failed to clear it.

"We hung in there as long as we could," said Wilson, whose team was playing its fourth game in six nights. "Coming out of the second period, I liked the position we were in, but we had a couple of breakdowns. With their skill, we just ran out of gas the last 10 minutes."

The Ducks are pleased, and rightly so, with their young talent, but consider this mind-boggling fact: Jagr is only 23, and has already won an NHL scoring title.

Pittsburgh's cast goes deeper, too, as illustrated by the highlight-reel goal by Markus Naslund for a 3-1 lead at 6:02 of the third. Naslund took on the Ducks one-on-three, splitting defensemen Dirk and Bobby Dollas as they hauled him down in front of the net, only to score anyway by knocking in the puck from his belly with a sweep of his stick.

"Heartbreaking," Wilson said.

"It shows you how deep they are," Hebert said.

The Ducks' last challenge came when Valeri Karpov scored at 7:01, but Lemieux started the play that made the score 4-2 with backhand pass off the boards to send Sandstrom and Petr Nedved out on a two-on-one against Dirk, with Sandstrom scoring.

*

Duck Notes

Among the scratches was rookie center Chad Kilger. "He's been run down, and we think he hasn't competed the way he should in the defensive zone," Wilson said. "You have to earn your spot in the lineup, you're not just handed it." Other scratches were Bob Corkum (hip flexor) and defenseman Milos Holan, who missed a third consecutive game because of cold or flu symptoms. . . . Right wing Todd Ewen has about 20 stitches in his left hand after being cut by a skate blade Friday during a fight with Buffalo's Rob Ray. The cuts are on his fingers across the knuckles, and a partially severed tendon in his middle finger also was repaired. The injuries aren't serious but it's uncertain when he'll be ready to play. Ewen originally thought a linesman's skate cut him, but was told by people who reviewed the tape that it was Ray's skate. . . . Troy Loney, a Pittsburgh resident and the Ducks' first captain who recently retired because of a back injury after playing last season with the New York Islanders and Rangers, visited the dressing room.

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