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Kurri Lifts His Spirits In Victory

Hockey: Duck forward's mind has been elsewhere but he scores game-winner to beat Toronto, 3-2.


ANAHEIM — Jari Kurri is the quiet type, so it's not surprising hardly anyone knew what was weighing on his mind in recent weeks.

While the Ducks were stumbling along and Kurri was playing at something less than his best, Kurri's father, Ville, was preparing for open-heart surgery in Finland, General Manager Jack Ferreira revealed Wednesday before Kurri scored the winning goal in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over Toronto in front of 16,342 at the Pond.

"He's fine. He's at home. He's recovering," Ferreira said. "[Kurri] never said anything about it."

The victory was only the Ducks' fourth this season, and they managed it despite playing without captain Paul Kariya for the final two periods.

Kariya left the game because of a slight concussion and was taken to Anaheim Memorial Hospital for observation after Toronto defenseman Mathieu Schneider hit him with an elbow late in the first period. There was no penalty on the play, but Anaheim Coach Ron Wilson called it "a blatant cheap shot" and said the Ducks will seek supplementary discipline.

It was a rare game in which the Ducks never trailed, but Toronto's Mats Sundin scored two goals to pull the Maple Leafs into ties before Kurri ended his 13-game goal drought at 10:52 of the third.

The relief felt like "I must have lost about 10 pounds," Kurri said, but nothing on the ice could compare to his relief at his father's continuing recovery after some early rough patches following surgery about three weeks ago.

"It's tough when you're so far away. You'd rather be right there," Kurri said.

With the score tied, 2-2, in the third, the puck caromed off the boards, and Kurri pounced on it in the right circle and beat Toronto goalie Felix Potvin for a 3-2 lead. It was only his fourth goal of the season after scoring three in the Ducks' first four games.

"It just hasn't been fun out there," he said. "Hopefully we can put together a couple of wins and have fun. We can't expect one or two guys to carry us. We need 20 guys trying to do the job. Tonight we had that."

In the Maple Leafs, they faced a team they figure they must beat out to make the playoffs. Toronto entered the game in eighth place, bunched with a group of teams seven points ahead of the last-place Ducks.

Maple Leaf goalie Felix Potvin hadn't lost to the Ducks in seven previous outings, going 5-0-2 against them. But the Ducks' backup goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov, made his third consecutive start, and might have earned another by making 26 saves.

It was a game in which the Ducks combined for bundles of terrific scoring chances. Kariya put four shots on goal before getting hurt, with Potvin stopping him on a near-breakaway with the Ducks' shorthanded. Center Steve Rucchin, who has slumped this season, started the game centering Kariya and Teemu Selanne and had several opportunities in close. Selanne, too, had chance after chance as the Ducks outshot the Maple Leafs solidly, though the final margin closed late, ending at 34-28.

The Ducks have watched the other team score first 12 times this season, but this time Kevin Todd gave them a 1-0 lead 11:44 into the game with his sixth goal of the season. They held the lead until the final minutes of the second period, when Sundin tied the score, 1-1.

Sundin pounced on his own rebound after it clanged off the right post and lifting it into the net over Shtalenkov, who was already down.

Garry Valk, who didn't score his first goal of the season until last week, scored his fourth in four games when he put in a rebound to broke a 1-1 tie at 1:26 of the third. Sundin's second goal of the game tied the score, 2-2, at the six-minute mark.

"I think we all kept looking over our right shoulder to see if [Kariya] was coming back," Valk said. "Paul's a tough kid, he'll be back."

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