ANAHEIM — The Mighty Ducks need help, and Paul Kariya might not be enough.
The Ducks gave up three short-handed goals in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks Friday night at the Pond.
Seven games into the season, the Ducks are 1-4-2, the first time in their four-year existence they have gone this deep into the season without notching their second victory.
It doesn't qualify as their worst start because they had the same number of points--four--at this juncture last year. But it is their most disappointing, because the Ducks have Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri and expectations.
"Paul's eventually going to come in on his white horse, but he's not there right now," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "We can't hide behind that excuse."
Kariya, rehabilitating from an abdominal injury, could return within the next couple of weeks, but he can't play every position.
"We have to learn how to win without him," right wing Warren Rychel said. "People think one guy is going to wave a magic wand and it's going to get better. That's not true. One guy is not going to change what's happened the last two nights."
Plenty of fans among the crowd of 17,174 let the Ducks know they weren't meeting expectations after another bust of a third period. The Ducks lost to Philadelphia Wednesday after giving up two goals in the third as well.
This time, they went on a power play trailing by one goal, only to give up two short-handed goals within two minutes, one to Darren Turcotte and the other to Ron Sutter.
"We made far too many mistakes," Wilson said. "It looked worse on the power play, but there were a lot of other times we made mental mistakes, too. Some guys aren't ready to play."
Bad penalties, turnovers, and it's not just the green defensemen.
"It's funny, everybody on the team wants to blame the other guy," Wilson said, who threatened to bench some veterans. "People don't want to do their own job. They want to hustle to do somebody else's."
The three short-handed goals were club records--a negative one for the Ducks, a positive one for the Sharks.
With a power play that's this dangerous, the Ducks should try a football ploy. Can they decline the penalty?
"You never think you'll get three short-handed goals like we did . . . " said San Jose Coach Al Sims, a Duck assistant coach until this season. "This means a lot. The win was very gratifying."
The Duck power play showed promise early this season and it ought to, with two past 70-goal scorers on it in Selanne and Kurri. After starting the season with three goals in their first nine opportunities with a man advantage, the Ducks are 4 for 33, including 0 for 7 Friday.
Selanne's hot start has cooled as well, in part because his line is the only one opponents need to worry about, which is one reason Wilson splits Kurri and Selanne at times. Selanne had 10 points after four games and was leading the league in scoring. Since then, he has been held to one goal in three games.
"Teemu was getting frustrated because he wasn't getting the puck at times, and I can understand that," Wilson said.
San Jose has been the Ducks' company at the bottom of the Pacific Division, but Owen Nolan gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 5:36 of the second. The Sharks had a man advantage after the Ducks' David Karpa followed up a high-sticking altercation with Tony Granato with a shove that drew an additional roughing penalty.
Granato's antagonistic style hasn't changed even though he has just recovered from the brain surgery that ended his season--and ultimately his Kings' career.
"From the first day of camp, Tony's been banging, being a pest," Sims said. "He's always making somebody so mad they want to take his head off."
Jeff Friesen's terrific short-handed effort put San Jose ahead, 2-0, at 12:54 of the second when he got out front on a breakaway, was hauled to his knees by Kurri, the only Duck in pursuit, but managed to sweep the puck past Hebert anyway as he sprawled to the ice.
Ted Drury scored the Ducks' only goal, cutting San Jose's lead to 2-1 at 14:21 of the second. The Ducks had other chances, but too often foiled themselves.
"Some guys have to take a look in the mirror," Wilson said. "Some think they're better than they are. We've got to play simple, basic hockey. Right now, some people don't want to hear that."