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Ducks Are Fit to Be Tied Again

Hockey: Unbeaten streak hits 11 after 2-2 standoff with Calgary.

March 17, 1997|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Strange as it seems, has the Mighty Ducks' 11-game unbeaten streak become a burden?

"There's always a point where you say, 'This has got to end sometime,' " Coach Ron Wilson said after a 2-2 tie with Calgary in front of 17,174 Sunday at the Pond, the fifth tie in the streak.

"The last couple of games, it's seemed like we're trying to hold on, hoping to get out of it with a tie. We're not playing to win, not being aggressive pursuing the puck. We're in a defensive shell when we don't need to be in one."

For the second game in a row, the Ducks took a one-goal lead into the third period, and for the second game in a row, they ended up with a tie, not a victory. (St. Louis tied the Ducks, 4-4, Friday.)

"It's people putting pressure on nothing," defenseman Bobby Dollas said. "Is it 10 games? I don't even know. . . . I don't care about the streak. When we were 1-12 or something were we talking about a streak?

"You can't get to a point where you're shaking when you touch the puck," Dollas said. "We'll live with mistakes. When you get in a situation like that, it's a deep cooker. We've got to finish strong. If we do we'll make it. If we don't we won't."

The Ducks missed the playoffs by a point last season, so that leaves them to wonder: Did they lose a precious point Sunday or save one?

One thing is clear, one point is important. The Ducks are in a three-way tie for fifth with Phoenix and St. Louis, one point ahead of Calgary and Chicago, who are tied for eighth. That means five teams are separated by one point.

"It's not our streak that's pressure, it's pressure to make the playoffs, I think," said right wing Teemu Selanne. "Of course, we're disappointed. The last couple of games we've had the lead after the second period and not won. Still, I think it's important to get a point. Last year we missed the playoffs by one point. One more and we'd have been there."

Goalie Guy Hebert, who made 41 saves in his fourth 40-save performance of the season, is a little incredulous anyone could find fault with the Ducks' run. "We lost a point, but we've gone 11 games without losing a game," Hebert said.

The Flames are in the thick of the same battle as the Ducks, but they have just completed their most difficult trip of the season, going 3-3-1. They return home for seven of their final 10. The Ducks, by contrast, still have a six-game trip ahead.

The Flames have limited their last nine opponents to two goals or less, and goalie Trevor Kidd made some superb saves among his 29 Sunday--including seven on Selanne and six on Paul Kariya, who were both held without a goal for a second game in a row, the first time that has happened this season.

Joe Sacco and rookie Sean Pronger each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but Calgary's Dave Gagner scored the game-tying goal at 6:43 of the third when he deflected a power-play shot after winning a faceoff from Steve Rucchin.

Robert Reichel scored the other goal, this one with the Flames holding a two-man advantage with Selanne off for high-sticking and defenseman Dmitri Mironov in the box for holding.

The Ducks were holding their breath later in the period when one of the little disasters that could thwart their chances flitted in front of their eyes. Hebert was lying on his back by the goalpost, moving only a little, after being driven into the goal by the Flames' Sandy McCarthy.

"A little bumped up, not bad," Hebert said. "I just saw a 235-pound guy coming right at me. He didn't hit me real hard, but he pushed me right into the post, and it didn't move."

Afterward, Hebert said, his shoulder was simply sore. He might be weary, but he's not ready for rest.

"We have 12 games left," Hebert said. "We have to get to the postseason before I have to worry about playing any more games. If we don't make it, I'll have plenty of time to rest."

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