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Ducks Present a Gift to Their Neighbors

Hockey: Anaheim's 2-1 victory over Vancouver enhances the ninth-place Kings' playoff chances.

April 02, 2001|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Desperation descended on the Arrowhead Pond like August humidity in the Everglades. You could see it on the faces of the Vancouver Canuck players and coaches Sunday. You could hear it in the voices of team executives shouting profanely from the press box.

The Mighty Ducks certainly did all they could to make matters worse for the reeling Canucks, rallying for a 2-1 victory on Petr Tenkrat's goal with 58 seconds remaining. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 29 saves, holding off the Canucks repeatedly and giving the Ducks a chance to win in his 22nd consecutive start in net.

"We knew they were a desperate team," Giguere said of the Canucks, who are 1-5-6-2 since their three-game winning streak ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on March 4. "We knew they needed two points. They have two big games coming up against L.A. They really need some wins."

Vancouver, seventh in the Western Conference standings, suddenly finds its playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Canucks lead the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes by one point and the ninth-place Kings by two.

With a victory tonight over the Canucks at Staples Center, the Kings can move past both the Coyotes and Canucks. The Kings play at Phoenix on Tuesday and face the Canucks again Thursday at Vancouver.

A announced crowd of 16,006 at the Pond included King Coach Andy Murray, who was as pleased by the late turn of events as any of the Duck partisans.

Outplayed for most of Sunday's game, the Ducks took all the hits the Canucks could deliver and kept skating well into the final period of a 1-1 tie. Giguere was superb from start to finish, giving up only Peter Schaefer's goal 4:30 into the game. Pascal Trepanier countered with a power-play goal for the Ducks at 6:43 of the opening period.

Suddenly, with time running out, Duck captain Paul Kariya had the puck on his stick in the left corner of the attacking zone. Kariya skated away from a defender and sent a centering pass to Marc Chouinard, who was near the left goal post. Chouinard then dropped a blind pass behind him to Tenkrat, who was uncovered in the slot.

"I saw the goalie go down and I tried to go high," Tenkrat said of shooting over Vancouver goalie Dan Cloutier's left shoulder to score his first goal since Jan. 3.

Vancouver pressed for the tying goal after Cloutier went to the bench in favor of a sixth skater, but the Ducks cleared the puck into the neutral zone repeatedly in the dying moments.

"They're battling for a playoff spot," Giguere said of the Canucks, who rallied to tie the Ducks, 2-2, Friday in Vancouver. "We know it's like a playoff game for them, but these games are important for us too."

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