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Oksiuta Saves Ducks Just in Time


It was an official tie. Very official.

That's because a handful of game officials made many of the biggest plays Sunday as the Mighty Ducks and defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche played to a 1-1 tie in front of 17,025 at the Pond.

The Ducks are unbeaten in their past two games after Roman Oksiuta's goal with 1.4 seconds left in regulation allowed them to force overtime, but at nearly every crucial juncture, officials had an effect on the game.

Colorado Coach Marc Crawford was irate afterward because of a tripping call against Keith Jones with 1:45 left in the third period that gave the Ducks a power play, allowing them a six-on-four attack after pulling the goalie with 50 seconds left.

Crawford wasn't happy with referee Paul Devorski's whistle after the Ducks' Jari Kurri took a seemingly embellished spill onto the ice with time running down, but he was more upset because he thought the game clock was stopped when Devorski's hand went up, saving the Ducks about four precious seconds before the Avalanche touched the puck and play stopped.

"You've really got to wonder about everything that's going on in this building right now," Crawford said during a post-game tirade. "A lot of mysterious things happened here tonight.

"The penalty call was marginal at best. We have the luxury of the video replay and that was the difference in the game tonight. The league people have to look into who's running the operation here. It was a bad call, but you can't make inexcusable mistakes. Four seconds rolled off the clock. We looked at it in there. It's inexcusable."

Anaheim Coach Ron Wilson, for once, wasn't fussing about the officiating.

"I'm not seeing what the ref sees," he said of the tripping call. "I assume he's right. The referee's always right."

Crawford was undeniably right about one thing: A lot of strange things did go on. Colorado's only goal was scored without the red light ever going on because Joe Sakic's second-period shot from the slot apparently went through the back of the net. Play continued until video goal judge Tom Wardell had an opportunity to notify Devorski of the goal, which was awarded at 12:59 of the second period.

"He said it was in," said linesman Brad Lazarowich, who said he checked the net for holes but couldn't find any. Nevertheless, replays showed the net moving after Sakic's shot from the slot, with the puck coming out in back.

"A lot of us could tell from the bench it went in," Duck defenseman Bobby Dollas said. "We were hoping somebody's stick hit the net, but Joe Sakic was in tight, the goalie was down. Nine times out of 10, he scores."

Said Wilson: "There's no argument. Everybody gets all worked up but the video judge said it was in. Apparently what they talked about was whether Adam Deadmarsh was pushed in the crease. Yes, he was pushed in, but I posed the question of whether he made any effort to get out. . . . But there's no three-second call in hockey."

It was the first goal for Colorado's potent offense in more than four periods, after a scoreless tie against Buffalo on Saturday. The Ducks' Guy Hebert made 33 saves.

"He looked like his old self, really for the first time this year," Wilson said.

Colorado backup goalie Craig Billington, who gave Patrick Roy a rare night off, made 31 saves and held the Ducks scoreless until the final seconds as the Ducks buzzed around the Colorado net.

"Everyone was yelling, 'Shoot! Shoot!' with eight or nine seconds left, but that's an eternity in hockey," Wilson said. "Teemu [Selanne] could have taken a shot but it might have hit somebody's leg and left the zone."

Instead, J.F. Jomphe took the puck behind the net and passed to Fredrik Olausson at the right corner. Olausson's shot rebounded out to Oksiuta on the other side of the net, and he put it in behind Billington.

"I don't know if he got a toe on it or not," Olausson said. "When it's six on four there's bound to be at least one guy open. Roman will get those goals for you. He's a big guy and hard to move. We tied a very good team. Obviously we wanted to win. But they are a very good team, probably the best in the NHL."

Said Paul Kariya, who tied his own team record with 10 shots on goal: "It took a good team effort to come back. It was good to keep it going instead of taking a step back."

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