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Flames Take the Fight Out of the Ducks

Hockey: In first meeting since fight-marred Dec. 8 game, Calgary scores a 2-1 victory.


CALGARY, Canada — As with almost every sequel, this one didn't live up to the original.

The Mighty Ducks and Calgary Flames squared off a few times Saturday. There was finger-pointing, a few group wrestling matches and some heated words, but it didn't measure up to the 309-penalty-minute melee on Dec. 8.

And the Ducks lost, 2-1, on a deflected shot, but that has become the norm for Anaheim.

"That was the way it was going to be," Duck Coach Bryan Murray said.

"The heavyweights were going to battle and the cheap shots were going to come after the fact. They did and we knew that."

A sellout crowd of 17,409 turned out, as the Ducks found themselves back in the Saddledome again, where friends aren't your friends. Jeff Friesen and Dave Lowry, teammates in San Jose, jawed before, during and after one faceoff, certainly discussing Friesen's comment that Lowry was "gutless" after the Dec. 8 game.

The last stampede in Calgary resulted in suspensions to the Ducks' Kevin Sawyer and Calgary's Craig Berube and Scott Nichol, as well as numerous fines.

But after an intense first period, and a few hot spots in the second, it became a standard game. The Ducks played. The Ducks lost.

Calgary's Chris Clark fired a shot from the right that ticked off defenseman Ruslan Salei's stick, deflected off goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere's glove, then ricocheted off the post and into the net. It gave the Flames a 2-1 lead 1:35 into the third period.

The Ducks were not so good at pinball play. Friesen found the puck at his feet near the net, spun and fired, only to have the puck go off the post with 2:45 left.

"Every night there is one little play in the game that seems to go against us," Murray said. "It seems to be the script every night."

If so, the Ducks' body of work rivals Stephen King.

Andy McDonald gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead, taking a pass from Oleg Tverdovsky and one-timing a shot into the upper left of the net 13:06 into the first period.

But Tverdovsky giveth and Tverdovsky taketh away. His turnover gave Scott Nichol the puck behind the Duck net. Nichol circled out and tossed a seemingly harmless effort across the crease that hit Tverdovsky's skate and went in to tie the score five minutes into the second period.

"Losers make excuses and that's not what we're doing, but oh boy, it sure would be nice to get a bounce here or there," Sawyer said. "If you're winning, the bounces seem to go your way. When you struggle, it's like Murphy's law."

Both teams have struggled. The Flames had lost four consecutive games. The victory pulled them within a point of the eighth-place Kings.

The Ducks are 1-9-1 in their last 11 games.

"We've been close every night, close isn't good enough in this league," captain Paul Kariya said.

Calgary may be in the playoff hunt. But the Flames went Duck hunting immediately on Saturday.

An active and chippy first period began with Berube and the Ducks' Denny Lambert going at it.

Even Kariya, a former Lady Bing Trophy winner for most gentlemanly play, got involved with some shoves and ended up bear hugging the 6-foot-3, 226-pound Robyn Regehr during a fray.

"That was pretty much what I expected," Sawyer said. "Right off the bat Denny went to battle with Berube.

"My next shift, [Jamie] Allison and I went at. There was still a lot of emotion.

"It was still an intense game. But both teams wanted the two points. We didn't get it."

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