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Selanne Gets a Goal, but Not a Win

February 11, 1996|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — History will record last Wednesday as the day the Mighty Ducks finally got serious about winning.

Saturday, there were flashes of how the Ducks someday might look, with Teemu Selanne racing around the ice, firing off blistering slap shots at opposing goaltenders or setting up teammates for goals.

For the most part, however, the Ducks looked like the same old inconsistent playoff pretenders, losing to the New York Islanders, 4-3, before 14,329 at Nassau Coliseum.

At game's end, Selanne preached patience. After all, it has been only one game and one practice since he joined the Ducks after the blockbuster trade that brought the three-time All-Star from Winnipeg. He's still getting used to his new teammates.

"Nothing fancy and creative is going to happen soon," Selanne said. "It really takes time."

Teamed on a line with winger Paul Kariya and center Steve Rucchin, Selanne scored the Ducks' first goal, 47 seconds into the second period, and grew more comfortable as the game went on.

Coach Ron Wilson sensed Selanne's nervousness but still was impressed.

"I think he was tight for a good part of the game, but you could see what he's going to do for our team," Wilson said. "He's not just a goal-scorer, he's a playmaker. He's going to be outstanding.

"He's going to feel pressure to put the puck in the net, but he'll loosen up in another game or two."

Selanne and Kariya nearly clicked for a goal on the first shift of the game, with Selanne slamming a high shot off the chest of Islander goalie Eric Fichaud.

At other times, the two seemed to get in each other's way, but both figured that's an adjustment they'll make in the coming practices and games.

Both seemed to move too quickly for Rucchin to keep pace, but it was his pass that set up Selanne's goal, his 25th this season.

"That tremendous speed was something I wasn't used to," Rucchin said. "The best thing you can do is get them the puck. They're going to be a great combination, no question. It'll take time on my part to get adjusted."

Said Kariya: "I was thinking, 'Where's [Selanne] going? Which holes is he going to jump into [to receive a pass]? Where does he want the puck?' "

Selanne's goal enabled the Ducks to tie the Islanders, 1-1, but they then went south until the third period.

Brent Severyn scored his first goal of the season for a 2-1 Islander lead at the 3:31 mark. Derek King scored about four minutes later to make it 3-1. Alexander Semak scored the Islanders' fourth goal at the 11:35 mark.

The Ducks, who lost their fourth in a row, rallied in the third as Wilson gave the Selanne-Rucchin-Kariya line the bulk of the ice time.

However, rookie Jim Campbell, scoring his first NHL goal, and defenseman Jason York, who helped the Ducks beat the Islanders, 2-1, with a goal in the final second of overtime at the Pond Nov. 17, rallied the Ducks with goals.

"I think the third period was great," Selanne said. "The first two periods, I think the team was watching what was going on. It didn't seem like their normal game."

*

Duck Notes

Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky, traded to Winnipeg for Teemu Selanne Wednesday, took a few parting shots at Coach Ron Wilson and the organization before their debuts with the Jets on Thursday. "They didn't have any patience," Kilger told the Winnipeg Sun. "They figured each mistake cost us a game and if they lost enough games they were going to lose their jobs. I think the coaches were getting pressure from higher up to play the older guys." Said Tverdovsky: "[Wilson] is the kind of coach who's not very patient with young players. He doesn't allow young players to make a mistake. I was afraid to make a mistake." Wilson responded Saturday: "I don't think that's fair. That's probably somebody [a Winnipeg reporter] trying to start something. There's a fine line, trying to get them to gain experience and also win hockey games."

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