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Rangers Defeat Ducks

Hockey: Calls leave Anaheim howling after 3-2 loss in New York.

December 28, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — You can knock the whistle from referee Kerry Fraser's hand and send it spinning broken to the ice, but you can never make him swallow it in the final minutes of a close game.

The Mighty Ducks were livid after a disputed power-play goal by Bruce Driver with 18 seconds left gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory and the roaring approval of a crowd of 18,200 Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Duck Coach Ron Wilson would hardly talk and winger Warren Rychel couldn't stop railing after a questionable penalty and a reviewed goal turned a near-tie against one of the NHL's hottest teams into a one-goal loss. The Rangers have lost only twice in their last 15 games.

Fraser is known for refusing to follow the hockey tradition of not calling penalties late in close games, and he was true to himself Friday, even after Duck center Kevin Todd's stick struck him violently in the hand as Todd fell, halting play and requiring Fraser to find a new whistle.

A few minutes later, with 1:53 left and the Ducks and Rangers locked in a tie, Fraser called Duck defenseman Darren Van Impe for interfering with the Rangers' Bill Berg in front of the Ducks' net, well away from the play.

That sent the NHL's best power play onto the ice, and Driver scored on a point shot that went into the net with Adam Graves either perilously close to the crease or inside it as Duck defenseman Dave Karpa gave him a shove.

A video review let the goal stand, a call Duck assistant coach Tim Army later agreed was correct.

But the Ducks have been on the wrong side of that so often recently that Wilson called it "almost comical," losing goals against Buffalo and Pittsburgh because players were marginally in the crease.

"You can get upset about that," Wilson said, before Army said closer examination of the replay showed it was right. "It was a goal," Army said, saying Graves entered the crease after the puck was in the net.

Wilson was more upset about the penalty.

"[Fraser] had let everything go," he said. "You don't pick two minutes to go as the time to call a penalty that, as far as I'm concerned, was marginal."

Berg called it "a good call."

"I was just trying to get to the net. [Van Impe] hauled me down. He put his stick up in my pants and just flipped me off my feet big time."

The Ducks lost despite a terrific performance from Hebert, who made a career-high 45 saves while facing a career-high 48 shots.

All three Ranger goals came on their power play, which leads the league with a 25% success rate and was three for five Friday.

The Ducks scored the first goal of the game when a shot by Ted Drury deflected off Driver's skate, but the Rangers took a 2-1 lead into the third period after power-play goals by Alexander Karpovtsev and Graves.

Defenseman Brian Leetch became the leading scorer among defensemen in Rangers' history with an assist on Karpovtsev's goal, passing Ron Greschner by scoring his 611th point.

There was only 5:54 left when Teemu Selanne tied the score with his 19th goal off a circle-to-circle pass from Paul Kariya.

The Rangers put the puck in the net with just less than five minutes left, but it didn't count because a whistle had clearly blown moments earlier after Fraser was accidentally hit by Todd, halting play.

Fraser got a new whistle though, and it was one he would use.

The Ducks' anger afterward ran the gamut, though most of it was focused on the Was-Graves-in-the-Crease question.

An incensed Rychel was angry that there were no calls despite stick injuries that cut Todd and Ken Baumgartner and cost Todd some teeth.

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