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Eight Is More Than Enough, Ducks Agree

Hockey: Kariya and Selanne combine to end team's longest losing streak with 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.


The speed and spunk of Paul Kariya and the inspiration he lends to Teemu Selanne finally lifted the Mighty Ducks out of their funk Friday night as they broke their eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks in front of 17,112 at the Pond of Anaheim.

Selanne won it for the Ducks with his third goal of the game, a power-play goal with less than five minutes to play. Only minutes earlier, he had scored his game-tying second goal of the game off a tremendous pass from Kariya.

It was Selanne's third hat trick as a Duck and 11th of his career, and lifted his goal total this season to nine.

It also lifted the Ducks out of the NHL's basement. They no longer have the worst record in the league. That distinction now belongs to Pittsburgh, which is 2-9-0.

Kariya, in only his second game of the season after returning from an abdominal injury, made a spectacular play to set up Selanne's second goal.

Kariya outsprinted the Sharks from the neutral zone all the way across the goal line off to the left of San Jose net to beat the Sharks to Duck defenseman Darren Van Impe's long lead pass. Kariya flung the puck back behind him, between the legs of Shark defenseman Doug Bodger and onto the stick of Selanne, who had beaten Todd Gill to the front of the net.

Selanne's goal tied the score, 3-3, at 12:53 of the third period.

The collaboration of Kariya and Selanne helped set up the game-winner, too, with the Ducks going on a power play after Bodger pushed Kariya into the net as he cut in on goalie Kelly Hrudey trying to take a pass from Selanne.

The penalty gave the Ducks a man advantage, and Selanne wound up from the left circle, his shot eluding Hrudey without being deflected by Fredrik Olausson, who had his stick at the ready.

It was an emotional final 20 minutes for the Ducks, who were exhorted and berated by Coach Ron Wilson on the bench before a power play with just under 15 minutes left. Wilson called a timeout and yelled so loudly his words could be heard in the top row of the arena.

San Jose, which fell to 5-6-3, has made an unexpected turnaround this season by gambling on older players, some coming off injuries that could have ended their careers. One example is Tony Granato, the former King who underwent brain surgery last season.

But the one who left his mark Friday was Al Iafrate, who scored two goals--his first since missing the last two seasons because of multiple knee surgeries. Iafrate, once known for having the hardest shot in the NHL, hadn't scored a goal since the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs or a regular-season goal since April 14, 1994, both as a Boston Bruin.

Iafrate's breakthrough goal was a laugher for the Sharks--a 90-foot shot from the red line only 37 seconds into the game.

The shot might have knuckled a bit, but it hit one of goalie Guy Hebert's pads, glanced off it and trickled under his legs into the net.

Just like that, the Ducks were in a hole again.

Iafrate also scored the goal that sent the Ducks into the third period trailing for the eighth game in a row, beating Hebert with a shot from just over the blue line that found the top corner of the net and made the score 3-2.

The score had been tied, 2-2 after Selanne scored his first goal at 9:08 of the period.

Like so many Duck-Shark games in the past, this one was rough and sometimes dirty.

San Jose's Andrei Nazarov was assessed a match penalty in the first period after his hit on Jeremy Stevenson caused Stevenson to crumple to the ice with a right ankle injury that knocked him out of the game.

The worse offense--and more inexplicable--was Anaheim forward Roman Oksiuta's retaliatory kick at Shark defenseman Doug Bodger after being cross-checked to the ice. Oksiuta also was given a match penalty, but his was more costly because the Ducks were already on a five-minute power play after the Nazarov penalty and would have gone on a five-on-three because of Bodger's penalty.

Instead, they had a 4-on-3 and came up empty, even though Selanne nearly scored twice--just missing when once when he softly hit the post on a backhand from close range--and Paul Kariya had a point-blank chance on a rebound.

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