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Ducks' Blue Line Special Paces Victory at Colorado

Anaheim defensemen Salei and Havelid score tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime win over Avalanche.

November 09, 2002|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

DENVER — Mighty Duck defenseman Ruslan Salei never saw the puck go in that tied the score.

Defenseman Niclas Havelid caught sight of the puck only after the game-winner was in the net in overtime.

And 18,007 at the Pepsi Center and the Colorado Avalanche couldn't believe their eyes.

Duck defensemen drawing a blank on key goals hasn't exactly been a rare occurrence in recent seasons. But this time it was different because they were the ones scoring the goals in a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory Friday over the Avalanche.

Salei tied the score with a wrist shot from the blue line with 3 minutes 25 seconds left. Havelid then won it, carrying Joe Sakic on his back to the net and chipping in a pass from Paul Kariya 20 seconds into overtime.

That ended a six-game winless streak in the Pepsi Center.

"Getting a game like this here, in this building we should feel real good," said goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 28 of 30 shots.

The Ducks are now 3-1-1 in their last five games, including victories over Boston and Colorado. They got this win without a goal from Kariya, Steve Rucchin, Petr Sykora or the other usual suspects.

"This proves we're a team," said Patric Kjellberg, who scored the Ducks' first goal. "We're not just counting on Paul and Rooch to finish it off. To be a successful team, we have come together and play as a team depending on everybody to show up."

The Avalanche was without goalie Patrick Roy and defenseman Rob Blake, who are nursing injuries. The overtime loss meant a point, but it also kept the Avalanche winless at home this season, a franchise-record seven-game streak.

There was little reason for the Ducks to expect to win this game. They spent much of the first two periods killing penalties and were fortunate to trail only 1-0 after the first period before Kjellberg tied it with a power-play goal a minute into the second period.

Although Colorado didn't score on any of its six power plays, one indirectly led to its second goal. That came after Giguere was called for delay of game after knocking the net loose. "I got pushed into the net," Giguere said. "[The referee] said I lifted my shoulder. That doesn't change the fact I got pushed into it."

As the penalty ended, Colorado's Radim Vrbata took advantage, taking a pass from Martin Skoula and beating Giguere high for a 2-1 lead.

Salei got the Ducks even late in the third. He knocked down the puck at the blue line, then fired through a crowd.

"I saw that little hole there at the corner of the net," Salei said, smirking. "I guess I got lucky.

"We're trying to change the way everyone thinks of us. If we want to be a good team, we've got to beat everybody in this league."

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