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Peace Prevails, So Do Ducks

Hockey: There is no payback for hit on Kariya, but win at Chicago and Selanne's 50th goal are satisfying enough.

March 26, 1998|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHICAGO — In the end, winning and Teemu Selanne's 50th goal of the season made for the best revenge possible for the Mighty Ducks.

Any lingering bad blood after the Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks before an announced crowd of 18,438 at United Center must be settled another day.

The Ducks chose not to retaliate for Gary Suter's cross check that knocked Paul Kariya out for the rest of the season Feb. 1.

They turned the other cheek when Chicago tough guy Reid Simpson jumped defenseman Jason Marshall nine seconds into the game.

And they preached peace when the Blackhawks seemed ready for a fight in the days and hours leading up to the game.

That Selanne's NHL-leading 50th goal was the game-winner merely provided a capper to a night in which the Ducks looked like a poised playoff-bound team and the Blackhawks did not.

"The only thing we tried to do was win this game," Selanne said. "I told the guys, 'Let's be smart. Let's try to win the game.' Suter got his punishment. Four games was pretty light, but I don't believe in these revenge things."

Asked for his reaction to Chicago captain Chris Chelios' comment Tuesday that if the Ducks went after Suter, "we'll go right after Selanne," the Duck captain said:

"I was just laughing. Some guys want to talk more than others. There was a lot of speculation that we'd try to get Suter. We only wanted to win the game."

It was a wise game plan since Brian Burke, NHL director of hockey operations, was in attendance. Burke spoke to Duck Coach Pierre Page, Chicago Coach Craig Hartsburg and referee Mick McGeough before the game in an attempt to persuade the teams to play rather than fight.

It didn't look like Burke's message got through when, nine seconds into the game, Simpson began punching Marshall. The anticipated melee did not materialize.

The Blackhawks claimed all the nastiness between the teams stems from Marshall's scrap with Chelios late in the Blackhawks' 4-0 victory Nov. 19. The Ducks said Chelios has roughed up Kariya repeatedly in the past.

The bad feelings came to a head when Suter leveled Kariya as he scored his second goal of the game in the Feb. 1 game at the Arrowhead Pond. Burke imposed a four-game suspension, but the Ducks believed justice was not served.

Kariya missed his 17th game Wednesday and is not expected to play again this season.

"If David Karpa was out for the year, you wouldn't be hearing about it," Hartsburg said. "Paul Kariya is an important guy for the game. I feel bad for him. I want to see him back in the NHL as quick as possible."

But Hartsburg also said, "I had three knee surgeries, a broken hip and shoulder surgery. My career was cut short. I don't whine and cry about it. Injuries are part of the game."

For the record, Kariya has not complained publicly about the hit or questioned Suter's intentions.

Perhaps a payback might never come. Suter is an unrestricted free agent at season's end and the Ducks will be in the market for a player of his talent and experience.

Wednesday, the Ducks were bolstered by the addition of defenseman Jamie Pushor and center Josef Marha, who were acquired in separate trades Tuesday.

Pushor played a physical style in a game filled with tough, but mostly clean checks. Marha scored the Ducks' first goal, slipping a backhander past Jeff Hackett 4:07 into the game.

Scott Young scored to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead 3:47 into the second period. Tony Amonte countered with the tying goal for Chicago at 8:13. Suter and Chelios had the assists.

Selanne scored the decisive goal in the final minute of the second period, and the Ducks persevered in the final 20 minutes for their third consecutive victory on their seven-game trip.

Selanne didn't hesitate when asked which was more meaningful, his 50th goal or a victory over the Blackhawks.

"The win, for sure," he said. "The biggest thing for me is to help our team win. I never set any goals. The biggest challenge is to play well every night. When I'm playing well, I don't have to even think about scoring goals."

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