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Cullen Comfortable on High-Scoring Line

DUCKS REPORT

April 05, 1999|ELLIOTT TEAFORD

Playing between standout wingers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne could prove to be unsettling for a young player. But second-year center Matt Cullen appears to be settling into his role on the top line.

Cullen scored his 10th goal of the season Saturday, enabling the Ducks to rally for a 2-2 tie against the New York Islanders.

"I'm more aware now of where they are on the ice," Cullen said of his more heralded teammates. "But I don't think you can ever predict where they're going to be. I think I'm getting a little more comfortable playing with them. I'm not as nervous."

There also are added responsibilities for any center who plays with Kariya and Selanne.

"There's a lot more pressure to get the puck out of your own end, moving it up the ice," Cullen said. "Faceoffs are very big with those guys. If I lose it, there goes 20 seconds we could have had [with the puck in the attacking zone]. Teams win the draw and they're just going to clear it deep [into the Duck zone]."

*

Kariya got a chuckle out of a question from a Finnish reporter the other night at Madison Square Garden. She asked, "Can you and Teemu read each other's minds?"

Said Kariya: "It's not a matter of reading minds, it comes from playing together."

And playing well together. Selanne, who has 99 points, and Kariya (96 points) are the NHL's second- and third-leading scorers.

*

Next to the coaching staff, backup goalie Dominic Roussel has probably had the best view of the Ducks this season.

"We're a good team when we play our system," said Roussel, who has played in only 15 of the Ducks' 75 games this season. "We can't think we can just float through a game. We have to skate strong. . . . We've got to get on a roll [going into the playoffs]."

Tonight

at Detroit

4:30 PDT, Fox Sports West 2

* Site--Joe Louis Arena.

* Radio--XTRA (690).

* Records--Ducks 34-29-12, Red Wings 40-30-6.

* Record vs. Red Wings--1-2.

* Update--Selanne leads the NHL with 45 goals and has seven regular-season games left to reach 50 for the third consecutive season. The Red Wings worked over Dallas, 3-0, Sunday for their first victory this season against the league-leading Stars. It also was Detroit's sixth consecutive victory since acquiring defenseman Chris Chelios, forward Wendel Clark and goalie Bill Ranford before the March 23 trade deadline. Chris Osgood played Sunday against Dallas, so the Ducks probably will face either Ranford or Norm Maracle tonight. The Ducks won the last game against Detroit, 3-1, March 7 at Anaheim.

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