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Ducks See Bright Side in Defeat : Hockey: Team falls to 2-8 despite a solid effort in St. Louis. Controversial third-period goal key to Blues' 4-2 victory.

October 28, 1995|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ST. LOUIS — The Mighty Ducks played so much better Friday night it could only be encouraging--unless you were one of the Ducks, staring hard at a 2-8 record after a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

"We're having lots of luck right now--and all of it's bad," defenseman Bobby Dollas said. "We played a real good hockey game. You don't think that team on the other side isn't saying, 'Phew, we pulled off that one'?"

The Ducks led, 2-1, going into the third period. But the Blues tied the score on an early power-play goal and then went up 3-2 on a goal credited to Jeff Norton at 9:17, then held off the Ducks until Brett Hull wrapped it up with an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left.

Norton's goal--if it was really scored by Norton--was the subject of much debate. Norton skated down the right wing with Dollas trying to hold him off, then threw the puck in front of the net toward teammate Geoff Courtnall, who appeared to score.

Duck Coach Ron Wilson complained that his own postgame review of the video showed Courtnall kicked the puck into the net with his skate.

Courtnall, originally credited with the goal, celebrated but called it "a garbage goal" and said, "when I saw it in the net, I was really surprised."

Coach Mike Keenan praised Courtnall's play, Wilson complained, and half an hour passed after the end of the game. Then a change in the official score sheet credited the goal to Norton, with an NHL official apparently contending after a video review that Courtnall never touched the puck.

On top of all that, Duck goalie Guy Hebert took the blame for the goal, even though nobody really knew how it got behind him.

"I feel responsible for that one," Hebert said. "It's probably the best we played all year. Not to come up with a win is very disappointing. I can't believe that third goal going in. That's the game right there. We have to win games like this so we don't have to keep dragging our heads about what's going on."

Wilson was unhappy that Duck winger Todd Krygier was slow getting back to pick up Courtnall, but if Courtnall didn't score after all, that point was somewhat moot.

The Ducks still had opportunities to tie, and went on a power play with 2:28 left, but it was nullified when Patrik Carnback was called for interference with 1:11 left after Esa Tikkanen skated into him at the blue line.

Not that the Ducks' chances were so outstanding: Their power play is six for 60 this season.

With the team struggling and rookie center Chad Kilger sitting out with a bruised left forearm, Wilson shook up the lines, putting Shaun Van Allen and Carnback on the first line with Paul Kariya, replacing Kilger and Krygier.

Krygier, who was moved to a line with Peter Douris and Mike Sillinger, scored his second goal of the season 2:36 into the game, putting the puck into a nearly open net on a pass across the crease from Dave Karpa, who drew the attention of goalie Grant Fuhr.

But Shayne Corson tied the score, 1-1, at 4:35 with the first of his two power-play goals.

The Ducks took the lead again at 19:04 of the second when Carnback, appearing in his first game in nearly two weeks, made the score 2-1.

*

Mighty Duck Notes

The game was the Blues' first at the Kiel Center since Coach and General Manager Mike Keenan stripped Brett Hull of the captaincy Monday, and many among the crowd of 17,384 booed when the scoreboard showed Keenan, who also has traded away popular players Brendan Shanahan and Curtis Joseph. . . . Duck Coach Ron Wilson left captain Randy Ladouceur out of the lineup for the third game in a row but has offered little explanation other than a surplus of defensemen. Ladouceur, a defenseman, has the team's best plus-minus at plus-4. "Ron said it's a numbers game," Ladouceur said. "Right now I feel all I can do is be patient and wait for my opportunity."

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