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Mighty Ducks Beginning to Take Wing, 4-1

Hockey: Anaheim runs unbeaten streak to six games with victory over Ottawa. Selanne scores two goals, Kariya his 100th.

March 06, 1997|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This is the sprint to the finish. Say one thing for the Mighty Ducks, they have the legs for it.

Teemu Selanne, so fast he's nicknamed the Finnish Flash, scored two goals during the Ducks' 4-1 victory over Ottawa on Wednesday in front of 17,174 at the Pond.

Paul Kariya, the Ducks' other warp-speed skater, assisted on one of Selanne's goals and capped off the game with an empty-net goal, his 100th NHL goal in a career that spans only 180 games.

Quick as a flash, the Ducks have a six-game unbeaten streak, their longest of the season and one shy of the club record. The longest unbeaten streak in team history came almost exactly a year ago, when the Ducks went 6-0-1 from March 8-24.

That was the start of a furious but futile stretch run. They went 12-3-2 in the final 17 games, then missed the playoffs by one point.

They're in better position this time. The victory vaulted them into a three-way tie for sixth in the Western Conference with Chicago and Phoenix.

But they have learned how small the difference between making the playoffs and staying home can be, and Coach Ron Wilson told the players during the morning skate to give everything to the race now because, "We don't want any . . . regrets."

For the most part, the Ducks have succeeded during their 4-0-2 run because of determined third-period play, but this time they broke the game open in the second, scoring three times in less than nine minutes.

Wilson wasn't pleased with a first period that he thought lacked intensity.

"We were mentally prepared, but I don't think we were ready in our hearts," he said. "We needed to generate some excitement. Teemu and Paul generated that excitement."

Ottawa didn't score until 9:18 remained in the game, Tom Chorske spoiling Guy Hebert's shutout bid. Hebert finished with 39 saves and lifted his record (23-22-8) over the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Selanne started the Ducks' run with a breakaway goal at 6:57 of the second off a pass from Kariya that unfolded more like a backyard football play: "Go long."

Steve Rucchin won a faceoff in the Ducks' end, and the puck went to Dmitri Mironov, who passed it back to Kariya behind the goal line. Kariya threw a bomb to mid-ice and Selanne ran it down, beating a couple of Ottawa defenders to the puck before he put it between Ron Tugnutt's pads on the other end.

That was Selanne's 38th goal of the season, and his 39th came about 6 1/2 minutes later at 13:37 of the period when he sprinted to the net and took a pass from Jari Kurri after Kurri came up with a loose puck in the neutral zone.

"On the first goal, Paul gave me an unbelievable pass. Jari did the same on the second," said Selanne, who now has 86 points, one less than Jaromir Jagr, the league's second-leading scorer. "Right now we have a good chance to make the playoffs. This is a big challenge for us."

Kurri has a mere 10 goals and 26 points this season, but he is inching up the NHL career scoring list. He needs only seven goals to reach 600 and the assist left him only two points behind John Bucyk for 11th.

Selanne's two goals were all the Ducks would need, but Brian Bellows added another at 15:38 of the second when he poked in the rebound of Kevin Todd's shot from the corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

Kariya finished things off with his 32nd goal, scoring into an empty net with 3.7 seconds left after Ottawa pulled Tugnutt for an extra attacker.

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