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Ducks Come Back With New Attitude

Hockey: They overcome bad luck and refuse to accept tie en route to 4-3 victory over Flyers.


PHILADELPHIA — This was the sort of game it was shaping up to be Saturday for the Mighty Ducks: on his first shift, Marty McInnis accepted a centering pass from Mike Leclerc and clanged a point-blank shot off the goal post.

It would get worse before it got better for the Ducks, who managed to overcome a healthy dose of bad luck and a pair of two-goal deficits to wrestle a 4-3 victory from the Philadelphia Flyers before 19,447 at the First Union Center.

For instance, Flyer rookie Justin Williams raced out of the penalty box to find himself on a breakaway midway through the first period. Williams deked goalie Guy Hebert and deposited the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

About four minutes later, Hebert inadvertently kicked a tricky low shot by Philadelphia's Kent Manderville into his own net for a 2-0 Flyer lead. Paul Ranheim was credited with the goal, although TV replays clearly showed Hebert--not Ranheim--knocked the puck over the goal line.

By period's end, the Ducks had been outshot, 18-5. They were outhustled to loose pucks. They seldom connected on consecutive passes and were hemmed in their own end of the ice for more than half of the first 20 minutes.

The Flyers hardly seemed to miss Eric Lindros, an unsigned free agent, or John LeClair, who underwent back surgery Saturday morning in Los Angeles.

"In the past years it would have been like, 'Ugh. Again?' But now we have a different feeling," right wing Teemu Selanne said after the Ducks rallied to defeat Philadelphia and end their five-game East Coast trip 3-1-1.

Selanne scored the go-ahead goal while the Ducks were on a power play with 2:38 left in the game, capping a wild scramble in front of goalie Roman Cechmanek by firing a loose puck into an open net from the left circle.

"I think so far, there's a difference between last year and this year," center Tony Hrkac said. "Last year, we pretty much would have folded our tents and said, 'Let's just play it out and if we get a goal, then great.' Good teams pull out victories somehow."

Hrkac also snared a loose puck and put it through traffic and into the net to pull the Ducks into a 3-3 tie 8:21 into the final period.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Ducks' performance was they never stopped believing they could rally and remain unbeaten in four consecutive (3-0-1). The mood on the bench was upbeat even when they trailed by 2-0 and 3-1.

Or so said Selanne, the team's resident optimist.

The Ducks' intensity picked up dramatically after Jim Cummins fought Philadelphia's Chris McAllister at 5:41 of the second period. Steve Rucchin's first goal of the season cut the deficit to 2-1 at 6:06. Dan McGillis countered for the Flyers 46 seconds later, but the comeback was underway.

"We were talking about making smart plays and once we got the momentum, we didn't stop," said Selanne, who has four power-play goals in his last six games. "After the first period, there were a lot of guys with their chins down. We said, 'Hey guys, there's lots of hockey left.' We really believed we could come back."

Thanks to goals by Leclerc at 9:11 of the second period and Hrkac, the Ducks erased a 3-1 deficit. Instead of playing for a tie one night after squandering a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Buffalo, the Ducks pushed for a victory.

With Kevin Stevens in the penalty box for interference against Selanne, the Ducks set up the game-winner with some gritty play in front of the net. A bit of luck didn't hurt.

Defenseman Niclas Havelid drove a perimeter shot into traffic. The puck kicked out to the slot, where Paul Kariya turned and whipped a second shot toward the net. It never got there, striking a leg or a skate in the tangle of bodies in front. The puck flew to Selanne, who was stationed in the left circle. With Cechmanek hopelessly out of position, Selanne whistled the puck into the back of the net.

"A big one," Selanne said of the goal and the victory. "We didn't stop believing we could come back. Everybody did a great job. With the game on the line, the power play came through. It's a good sign. It was a great road trip."

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