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Canucks Better By a Third

Hockey: Ducks give up four unanswered goals in last 20 minutes in a 5-2 setback.

November 14, 1998|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VANCOUVER, Canada — Backup goaltender Dominic Roussel has spent so much time on the bench this season that the Mighty Ducks could have done the nice thing and bought the poor guy a recliner.

But No. 1 goalie Guy Hebert couldn't play every game, and Friday was finally Roussel's night to return to action after 12 games on the bench.

Tough thing, sitting out that long. Tougher still was the Vancouver Canucks' third-period rally en route to a 5-2 victory Friday before 15,582 at General Motors Place.

The Ducks could have at least come up with something special to aid Roussel, whose only other appearance this season was in a 1-0 loss Oct. 10 to the Washington Capitals.

"I thought for two periods we played pretty well," Coach Craig Hartsburg said. "We skated hard and pressured them into making mistakes. The third period came and it was a complete reversal."

To make matters worse, Roussel couldn't count on playing behind a full-strength Duck lineup. Wingers Tomas Sandstrom and Teemu Selanne were back home in Orange County, nursing injuries.

Sandstrom has a broken left wrist and Selanne a bruised foot and a strained thigh muscle--both in his right leg.

"We missed 'em tonight," left wing Paul Kariya said.

It still looked good for a while for the Ducks, who built a 2-1 lead after the first period. They kept the Canucks at a reasonable distance from Roussel in a scoreless second, then fell apart in the third.

And, as roofs go, that was a doozy that caved in on the Ducks in the final 20 minutes.

"We didn't compete and go after the puck," Hartsburg said.

Asked about Roussel, he added, "Like our whole team, he was very good for two periods, then . . . "

Rookie right wing Bill Muckalt and center Dave Scatchard scored on Vancouver's first two shots in the third period, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead after only 3:30.

Defenseman Bryan McCabe, who signed a contract Wednesday after a monthlong dispute, put the game out of reach with his first goal of the season at 9:11. Markus Naslund added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

It would be easy to pin the blame for the loss on Roussel, but the Ducks didn't exactly ride to his rescue. After dominating play for the first two periods, they simply couldn't keep up with Vancouver in the third period.

"It's been a long time [between starts] and it was a little tough to focus on the puck," Roussel said. "I felt good, but the third period, I wasn't very happy about that."

The Canucks seemed ripe for the picking at the start.

First, the Canucks played an exhausting, end-to-end game Thursday in defeating the Flames, 4-3, in Calgary.

Second, they generally stink in the first period of games this season, and Friday was no exception.

Vancouver has been outscored, 17-9, and outshot, 151-95, in the first period this season.

So, the Ducks' 2-1 lead and 16-7 edge in shots on goal shouldn't have come as a surprise. Winger Marty McInnis and center Steve Rucchin scored in the first period.

It's just the sort of offensive boost the Ducks needed. Without Sandstrom and Selanne, Hartsburg juggled his top two lines. McInnis filled in at right wing for Selanne, joining Rucchin and Kariya. Jeff Nielsen, Matt Cullen and Travis Green formed the second line.

Naslund also had the Canucks' first goal, which was a gift. Vancouver defenseman Bret Hedican set up the goal, racing down the right wing and depositing the puck at the right post.

The play looked harmless enough. But Duck Jamie Pushor didn't contest Hedican or Naslund, who sneaked behind the defenseman to poke the puck into the net to tie the score, 1-1, at 8:20.

"We had a good first two periods, but we came out flat in the third," Kariya said. "Give them credit. They buried us. It's just a matter of us not playing a 60-minute game. We haven't played 60 consistent minutes yet this year."

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