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Ducks Beaten in All Phases by Canucks

Hockey: Vancouver skates to 7-2 victory highlighted by Cassels' hat trick. Anaheim holds players-only meeting after winless streak reaches five games.


The Mighty Ducks spent 60 minutes getting worked over by the steadier, speedier and more confident Vancouver Canucks, 7-2, Wednesday before an announced crowd of 11,588 at the 17,174-seat Arrowhead Pond.

Then the Ducks spent 25 minutes in a players-only meeting, trying to find ways to halt a 0-3-2 winless streak that has sent them reeling to the bottom of the Pacific Division standings.

"We had a long talk because something has to change," Duck defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky said. "You can talk about what we did wrong on the ice, but the thing that's been wrong with this team for a long time is we just show up. Everybody has to look into a mirror right now and ask, 'Did I do a job or not?' "

The Ducks' goaltending let them down, killing the early momentum they built. Their defense collapsed repeatedly, leaving Canucks wide open in front of the net. And their power-play and penalty-killing units failed miserably.

"We're playing horribly defensively," captain Paul Kariya said after the Ducks were outshot, 43-38. "We're soft up the ice and in the neutral zone, but especially in the defensive zone. I've talked about the defense, but our power play has been brutal. Our penalty killing has been bad. It's everything. We've got Colorado and Detroit coming up and, if we play like this, we'll really get hammered. It'll be 10-2."

Added Coach Craig Hartsburg: "There's no sense trying to hide the fact that we're struggling right now. We've got to have a short-term focus right now. Our focus has to be only on [today's] practice. We've got a couple of days to regroup."

To be sure, the Ducks have a lot of improving to do before games Saturday against the Avalanche in Denver and Sunday against the Red Wings at the Pond.

Wednesday, the Ducks' goaltending failed them. Guy Hebert started and gave up four goals on 17 shots in 24 minutes 13 seconds. Dominic Roussel came on in relief and gave up two more second-period goals on seven shots.

Unlike Hebert and Roussel, Vancouver's Felix Potvin made routine and spectacular saves alike in keeping his team on track after it took a four-goal second-period lead. Potvin robbed Teemu Selanne with a glove save on a point-blank try in the opening moments of the third period, for example.

Of course, a 6-2 Duck deficit after two periods wasn't all the fault of their goaltenders. The Ducks' laissez-faire defensive play gave the Canucks all sorts of open ice. No one capitalized more than Andrew Cassels, whose three-goal game led Vancouver's offensive outburst.

And there was more.

The Ducks' power-play unit fizzled again, going scoreless on three opportunities and extending their slump with the man-advantage to 17 consecutive chances without a goal over four games.

After Ladislav Kohn's goal cut Vancouver's lead to 4-2 at 11:15 of the second period, the Ducks botched a terrific chance to get back in the game. But a two-man advantage for 1:13 produced only one shot on Potvin.

Cassels scored his second and third goals of the game only 2:38 apart late in the second and the Ducks trailed, 6-2.

The Canucks scored three times with the man advantage, including rookie Daniel Sedin's fifth goal of the season. His twin brother Henrik assisted on the goal.

Trailing, 1-0, after giving up a power-play goal to Vancouver's Peter Schaefer only 4:27 into the game, the Ducks were forced to kill off a five-minute boarding major to German Titov.

Kariya's shorthanded goal tied the score, 1-1, at the 11:06 mark, giving the Ducks life for a few short moments.

But Adrian Aucoin put Vancouver ahead to stay seconds after Titov's penalty expired, sending a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Hebert at 12:06.

"It hurt," Hartsburg said of Aucoin's goal. "It shouldn't have kept us from battling back. We kind of collapsed after that goal. We did a good job of killing the penalty and getting through it with momentum instead of losing the momentum."

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