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Mighty Ducks' Sillinger Ends His Goal Drought

February 26, 1996|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Opportunities wasted, goal-less streaks growing, confidence--in the themselves and from their coach--diminishing.

All that was wiped away with a flick of a stick, or two.

Todd Krygier swooped in, catching San Jose Shark goalie Chris Terreri by surprise behind the net. A moment later, Mike Sillinger was in front of the net, with the puck at his feet and an open net in front of his ever-bulging eyes.

How many games had it been? Twenty three.

"I'd rather have the victory than the goal," Sillinger said.

But getting both is pretty sweet, too.

It was Sillinger's goal--his first since Dec. 10--that was the difference in the Ducks' 4-3 victory over the Sharks Sunday at the Pond.

It gave them a 4-1 lead in the second period, so there was very little drama with it. And, yes, teammate Teemu Selanne did have the previous three goals, so it won't be the talk of Duck fans today. But Sillinger scored.

"There's no question I've been thinking about it," said Sillinger, who has 12 goals on the season. "The last few games I've been playing to not make mistakes. That's usually when you make them."

It was Terreri who made the mistake Sunday. He slipped behind the net and attempted to clear the puck. But Krygier, mired in a 16-game goal-less streak, got there to knock the puck free. His centering pass went off a Shark stick to Sillinger.

So Sillinger got the goal and Krygier--who hasn't scored since Jan. 7 and was without a point since Jan. 27--got the assist.

Sillinger was acquired last April from Detroit, where he had been a regular scratch.

With more ice time, Sillinger would be a threat, or so the idea went. There was certainly reason to believe it. He had scored 50 or more goals and 100 or more points three times in juniors.

Things seemed to be headed in that direction this season. Sillinger had seven goals through the first 11 games, including a five-game streak when he scored goals. But his latest streak wasn't so impressive, even if it was longer.

"The pressure does build up," Sillinger said. "I can recall four or five times when I thought I should have scored. I hit the crossbar against Calgary [Friday]."

Krygier knows the feeling well. He missed two good opportunities Sunday, one on a breakaway.

"Teemu missed a breakaway, too, so I don't feel so bad," Krygier said.

But what has gotten him and Sillinger down is diminishing ice time. Both have seen their time cut and were even scratched by Wilson in Chicago in a motivation attempt.

"I got guys who can check," Coach Ron Wilson said. "I need people to produce [on offense]."

He got that Sunday. Sillinger scored, with the help of a fellow sufferer.

"Todd was the first guy to pat me on the back," Sillinger said. "He said, 'You got a goal and I even got the assist.' "

Said Krygier: "Now he has to return the favor."

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