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Thomas Is Ducks' Trade Secret

Former Chicago Blackhawk scores both goals in Anaheim's 2-1 victory over Nashville, giving the forward eight goals in 10 games.

April 02, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

NASHVILLE — As it stands, the Chicago Blackhawks better make a heck of a pick in the fifth round of the June draft. That seems to be the only way they would get fair value for sending Steve Thomas to the Mighty Ducks.

Thomas, acquired on March 11, looked even more like trade-deadline robbery Tuesday, helping the Ducks steal a 2-1 overtime victory from the Nashville Predators. He had both goals, scoring the game-winner after re-directing a Rob Niedermayer pass 4:07 into overtime.

The goal allowed the Ducks to slip out of the Gaylord Entertainment Center with a victory that everyone, especially the 15,494 in attendance, felt they may not have deserved.

Thomas has eight goals in 10 games since the trade. He had four goals in 69 games for the Blackhawks.

"It's something to be in Anaheim, with the weather and palm trees," Thomas said. "You have such a nice feeling playing out there. It makes me real comfortable."

Ya think?

The Blackhawks sent the 39-year-old Thomas packing after falling out of the playoff race. He has three game-winning goals for the Ducks, two of them in overtime.

Thomas scored his 13th career overtime goal, the most in the NHL, by doing what he always does -- attack the net.

Niedermayer, another key trade-deadline pickup, sent a pass to Thomas, who was crashing the net while dragging Nashville's Scott Walker along for the ride. Thomas managed to get enough of his stick on the puck and gently slide it between the legs of goalie Tomas Vokoun.

"I know my role here and that has made it easier to blend in," Thomas said. "I just went to the net and Rob made a nice pass. There is nothing better than getting an overtime goal."

It certainly made for a better airplane ride to Dallas for the Ducks, who play the Western Conference-leading Stars tonight. They hopped over Minnesota into sixth place in the conference with as bad a performance as they have had all season.

The Ducks were decisively out-played through two periods. At one point early in the second period, the Predators had an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal.

What kept the game scoreless to that point was the play of Duck goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who looked playoff-ready. He stopped 39 of 40 shots, many from point-blank.

The only goal he allowed came when Scott Hartnell whipped a shot off a face-off that rocketed past Giguere to tie the score, 1-1, 14:58 into the second period.

"Everyone in this room knows we could have easily lost this game," Giguere said. "But good teams always find a way to win. We are used to winning now."

The Ducks were being overwhelmed, but managed to take the lead when Nashville's Jason York took Thomas down on a breakaway eight minutes in the second period and Thomas was awarded a penalty shot.

"I have never had one of those before," said Thomas, an 18-year veteran. "I went to the bench and ask for ideas on what to do and no one said anything."

Thomas didn't seem to need the input, with a shot that beat Vokoun to the stick side.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Just In Time

Steve Thomas, 39, has discovered the fountain of youth since coming to the Mighty Ducks at the trade deadline:

*--* With Chicago With Ducks 69 Games 10 4 Goals 8 13 Assists 2 17 Points 10 4.4 Shooting Pct 36.4

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