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For a Change, Things Go the Ducks' Way

Hockey: McInnis' first goal in 16 games helps fuel rally from two-goal deficit that ties the Wild and ends a five-game losing streak.

January 12, 2002|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It has reached a point where even the Mighty Ducks seem to expect the worst ... and for once they were pleasantly surprised when the sky didn't fall on them.

Marty McInnis got a kind deflection off the stick of a Minnesota Wild player. He was left with the puck at his feet and an open net before his eyes early in the second period Friday. Only one thing could happen.

"I thought for sure [the goalie] was going to dive across and make a save on me," McInnis said.

Yet, the worst-case scenario wasn't the Ducks' fate for a change. McInnis scored his first goal in 16 games. The Ducks rallied, then held on for a 2-2 tie against the Wild in front of 18,568 at the Xcel Energy Center.

McInnis and Paul Kariya, goal-less in his last seven games, scored. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made two big saves at the end of the third period. A five-game losing streak came to an end.

For once all was well in Duckville ... for the most part.

They got outshot, 14-5, after the second period by a Wild team that played Thursday night in Nashville. They had to survive two defensive blunders in the third period.

Ruslan Salei turned the puck over in the Duck zone and Giguere bailed him out by making a save on Andrew Brunette's point-blank backhand try with fewer than three minutes left. A minute later, Oleg Tverdovsky turned the puck over in the Duck zone and Giguere needed to make another desperate save, this time on Wes Walz.

"What we're doing sometimes, you wonder," Duck Coach Bryan Murray said.

The Ducks' winless streak reached seven and left their record at 13-24-6-3. After 46 games last season, they were 14-22-6-4 and on their way to a last-place finish in the Western Conference.

"I think, everyone should be happy with the effort," Giguere said. "It wasn't easy, a lot of guys are tired, but we came back and it doesn't happen very often."

The Ducks rallied for a tie for the first time this season, having blown leads in their five previous ties.

"Is that good? I hope it is," Murray said. "We just need a win for this team now. We get so tight late in games because we've had a little streak here where we haven't scored a lot of goals and haven't won. We have to get some wins for their mental state."

Therapy wasn't going well when the Wild went up, 2-0, early in the second period.

Filip Kuba whipped a shot through a crowd that beat Giguere for a 1-0 lead 13 minutes 14 seconds into the game.

Antti Laaksonen took two hacks at a rebound by the post, the second knocking the puck under Giguere 39 seconds into the second. The goal light did not go on. Referee Dean Warren did not signal a goal. But the video goal judge ruled it a goal, leaving the Ducks a bit confused.

"I was told by a couple people who were involved, it never crossed the line," Murray said. "I asked the referee why he went upstairs. He said he wasn't sure."

Said Kariya: "The goal judge said it didn't go in. The referee was right there, no one has a better view than him, and he didn't call a goal."

Well, Giguere had a better view.

"Yeah, it was in," he said. "You would have known if it wasn't a real goal. I would have lost it."

At that point, the Ducks seemed beaten.

After all, they had only 12 goals in their previous seven games.

But McInnis got a ricochet and scored a minute after Laaksonen's goal.

Another one bounced the Ducks' way midway through the period. With the Ducks on a power play, a Samuel Pahlsson pass went off a Wild skate and to Kariya in the slot. He wound up and buried a shot.

"I think I have 100 shots," McInnis said. "How many shots can you have and not score? You just got to keep getting yourself in the right spot, keep throwing pucks on net and the bounces will come."

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