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Mighty Ducks on Thin Ice

Game 3: Red Wings come back strong from 3-1 deficit for 5-3 victory and 3-0 lead in series.


ANAHEIM — So far, and yet so close.

The Mighty Ducks are in a very deep, dark hole against Detroit after a 5-3 loss to the Red Wings in Game 3 Tuesday at the Pond that leaves them trailing the best-of-seven series, three games to none.

The Ducks face elimination Thursday even though they took the Red Wings to overtime in Game 1 and to triple overtime in Game 2, and twice had two-goal leads in Game 3.

"It's pretty bleak now, especially the way the Red Wings are playing," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said.

Only two NHL teams have come back to win a series after losing the first three games.

"It's a real tough uphill battle," veteran Brian Bellows said. "A lot of guys tonight learned how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. As a team, we didn't come to play tonight. The Red Wings showed us how.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 8, 1997 Orange County Edition Part A Page 3 Sports Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Hockey photograph--The caption below a Page One picture Wednesday showing action in the playoff game between the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings misidentified the Detroit player. He is Doug Brown.

"You've got to give the Red Wings full credit. They came out with fire in their eyes."

The score was tied, 3-3, going into the third, but it was a tie game going the wrong way. The Ducks twice had two-goal leads, but Detroit caught them, and there was to be no third overtime game in a row.

Early in the third, the Red Wings jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and age-old defenseman Larry Murphy sent Sergei Fedorov--a former NHL most valuable player--in on a breakaway.

Fedorov beat goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov for a 4-3 lead 3:34 into the final period, exciting a considerable contingent of Red Wing fans among the crowd of 17,174.

Only 24 seconds later, it was all but over after Vyacheslav Kozlov--the hero of triple overtime Sunday--scored on another breakaway, making a nice backhand move to beat Shtalenkov, who was filling in for injured starter Guy Hebert.

It was the second goal of the game and fourth of the playoffs for Kozlov, who also had an assist.

"It showed a lot of the character of this hockey club," said Detroit goalie Mike Vernon, who faced only 23 shots compared to 49 by Detroit. "We weren't satisfied," Vernon said. "We weren't going to lay down and just hand it to them."

The Red Wings weren't ready to call the series over.

"No, you tell me, what was our record against them during the regular season?" said winger Doug Brown, who scored the tying goal. "They took it to us all year long. They've played too well. It's going to be a battle."

Now the Red Wings have four chances to end the Ducks' first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Detroit can advance to the Western Conference finals by winning Thursday at the Pond, and would have another chance Saturday in Detroit in Game 5.

The Ducks led, 3-1, after Ted Drury scored 5:12 into the second period after a pass by Detroit defenseman Aaron Ward went off Warren Rychel's skate and Drury dashed to the net.

But Detroit got back in the game with a power-play goal after an interference penalty against Duck defenseman Dan Trebil. Igor Larionov scored when he deflected a shot by Kozlov that had hit the Ducks' J.J. Daigneault.

"I think it came down to our inexperience at times," Wilson said. "We really struggled behind the blue line. . . . I thought when we made it 3-1, we were pretty much in control. But we took a bad penalty behind the play when we had a three-on-one and instead of going up, 4-1, we were in the box and Igor Larionov scored."

It was Brown who scored perhaps the biggest goal, when he cut to the right post and simply redirected what might have been a pass and might have been a shot from Tomas Sandstrom along the left-wing boards.

It was so quick, Shtalenkov had no chance, and Detroit had tied the score, 3-3, at 16:28 of the second period.

"Mike played unbelievable, obviously," said Hebert, who has a groin injury and isn't sure if he'll be able to return for Game 4. "I don't know if I'd have played as well or done anything different. . . . It was just miserable walking around here getting treatment and trying to watch the game on TV."

Right wing Selanne wasn't going to be kept out of Game 3 even though his left calf still bore the ugly mark of Kirk Matlby's Game 2 slash.

"I iced it down about 100 times [Monday]," said Selanne, who wore a protective pad on the back of his leg in case anyone tried to hit him there again. "Stiffness is the problem," he said. "Pain you can play with."

The Ducks got the early lead after a string of penalties against the Red Wings gave the Ducks two five-on-three power plays, and they made good on both.

Vernon kept calm through triple overtime in Game 2, but he lost his cool midway through the first period in Game 3.

With the Red Wings already trying to kill off a penalty, Vernon was whistled for high-sticking, giving the Ducks a two-man advantage.

He compounded their trouble moments later, when he skated over to referee Bill McCreary and shouted at him through his mask until McCreary, staring straight ahead with his hands on his knees, had heard enough and gave him a 10-minute misconduct.

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