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Duck Win Is Seconds to None

Calgary ties score with one-tenth of a second remaining in regulation, but Leclerc's goal early in overtime gives Anaheim a 4-3 victory.

February 13, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Steve Rucchin and Mike Leclerc made things all better Wednesday.

The Mighty Ducks had let a one-goal lead get away with one-tenth of a second left in regulation. Rucchin and Leclerc didn't let that moment fester long.

Rucchin found Leclerc in front of the net 10 seconds into overtime and the Ducks skated off with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames, allowing the announced crowd of 11,612 at the Arrowhead Pond to exhale.

Beauty was left to the eye of the beholder.

"It was an ugly two points," said Duck captain Paul Kariya, who had two assists. "This was far from being our best effort. We won't be seeing any of this game on the highlight reels."

It may have lacked cinematic quality, but the victory has the Ducks in eighth place in the Western Conference, four points ahead of ninth-place Chicago.

All seemed secure after Petr Sykora's two third-period goals had the Ducks up, 3-2. But with time about to run out, Toni Lydman got off a shot that slide between goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere's legs and across the goal as the horn sounded.

The Ducks didn't wallow. Instead, Rucchin badgered Jarome Iginla into a turnover, then circled behind the net before spotting Leclerc.

"I was up ice and saw Steve force the turnover, so I skated to the net," Leclerc said. "Steve put the puck right on my tape. All I have to do was put it in the net.

"Hockey is full of ups and downs. There are momentum changes all the time. Good teams learn how to deal with the bad breaks and bounce back."

The Ducks are 8-1-1 against the Western Conference's three bottom feeders -- Nashville, Columbus and Calgary.

"These are dangerous teams," said Rucchin, who had three assists. "They are not in the playoff picture, so there is no pressure, no consequences."

The Ducks went through those what-do-we-have-to-lose-but-another-game seasons themselves. Things are a little more serious now, too serious to be out-worked the way they were much of the game.

The Flames outshot the Ducks, 33-24, and only through the work of Giguere were they able to prevent disaster. Giguere stopped a wide-open Iginla on a second-period shot, then managed to get his toe on Iginla's rebound try. The whole game went like that.

"We can feel good about learning this lesson tonight because we won," Giguere said. "That could have been crushing. But we came right back in overtime. We can be happy with the two points, especially because we didn't play very well."

The game was filled with missteps. Sykora was given a double minor for high sticking as the second period ended. Defenseman Kurt Sauer was then sent off for high sticking at 2:30 into the period.

The Flames may have the second-worst power play in the NHL, but even they are dangerous with a two-man advantage. Chris Drury lined up a shot at the blue line and whipped it through a crowd for a 2-1 lead at 3:01.

The Ducks answered with their own power-play goal three minutes later. Rucchin made a pass across the crease to Sykora, who chipped the puck into a wide-open net.

Sykora gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead at 10:11. But the effort belonged to Adam Oates, who managed to bat the puck to Kariya while on his knees. Kariya found Sykora in front of the net for a one-timer.

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