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Oilers Put End to Duck Streak

Hockey: Anaheim loses for first time in four games as Kovalenko nets winner 39 seconds into overtime.


The Mighty Ducks got just what they deserved Friday against the Edmonton Oilers--a 3-2 overtime loss at the Arrowhead Pond that ended their three-game winning streak.

Or to be more precise, the faltering Ducks were fortunate to have extended the Oilers to overtime. The Ducks appeared to be finished at several points during Friday's clunker.

Edmonton's Andrei Kovalenko finally put the Ducks away for good, scoring the second of his two goals only 39 seconds into the five-minute overtime period.

A defensive breakdown along the boards led to the winning goal. The Ducks couldn't clear the puck out of their own zone, left goaltender Guy Hebert to fend for himself and watched Kovalenko deposit a backhander into the net for his eighth goal of the season.

"The defenseman can't leave the front of the net," said Coach Craig Hartsburg, who insisted he was not particularly upset with the Ducks' flat performance.

"I thought we had a better effort [than in a 3-1 victory Wednesday over the New York Rangers]. We were definitely better against a real quick offensive team.

"[But] I don't think we've played our best yet."

It took Paul Kariya's 10th goal of the season just to get the Ducks into overtime. Kariya scored the game-tying goal at 13:49 of the third period, whistling a one-timer from the slot into the net off a pass from near the goal line from Marty McInnis.

"A perfect shot," said Edmonton goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov, playing his first game at the Pond since the Ducks left him unprotected in the expansion draft last June.

Shtalenkov, traded Oct. 1 from Nashville to Edmonton, stopped all but two of 21 shots. Antti Aalto scored his first NHL goal, accounting for the Ducks' other goal at 14:07 of the first period.

"I've been waiting for so long," Aalto said.

Aalto narrowly missed tying the score, 2-2, at 4:56 of the third period, but Shtalenkov smothered his trick shot from a bad angle on the right wing.

"I saw him coming across the crease," Aalto said of Shtalenkov. "I tried to hit him with the puck and hoped it would go in off him. I don't know how he stops that puck."

Pat Falloon, who scored 3:37 into the game, and Kovalenko, with the Oilers on a two-man advantage at 5:48 of the second period, had Edmonton's first two goals.

The Ducks didn't impress many in the crowd of 16,367, which included free-agent pitcher Randy Johnson, who was being recruited to play for the Angels by Disney chairman Michael Eisner.

Or more to the point, it was injured winger Teemu Selanne who delivered a first-period sales pitch in a club-level suite.

For the first time since he was hurt Nov. 11 against Carolina, the Ducks sorely missed Selanne, sidelined for the fifth consecutive game because of a strained right thigh.

Selanne tested his leg at the morning skate by participating gingerly in several drills. He also underwent acupuncture treatments Thursday, which he described as "relaxing" and "pretty neat."

"Hopefully, it works too," said Selanne, who hasn't ruled out playing Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

But his return for the start of a five-game trip Tuesday at Detroit seems more likely.

The Ducks needed him in the lineup Friday. The Oilers set the game's tone in the first few moments, when bruising winger Mike Grier belted Duck Jeff Nielsen with a crushing open-ice check.

Grinder Ted Drury offered a payback to Edmonton's Mats Lindgren several minutes later, checking him into the Duck bench.

But Lindgren quickly rejoined the play and helped set up the game's first goal, a quick shot from the right faceoff circle by Falloon.

More than any other play Friday, that one best illustrated the difference between the Oilers and Ducks.

Aalto scored the equalizer with the Ducks on a power play at 14:07 of the first period. Kariya set up Aalto's first NHL goal, whipping a pass from the left wing into the slot for his 300th career point.

"Paul gave me a great pass and I was a little bit lucky," Aalto said. "I just drove the net and I yelled to Paul and hoped it went in."

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