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Ducks Can't Stretch Point

An opportunity to gain ground on Minnesota in the Western Conference standings is wasted in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Wild at the Pond.

January 21, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The images were telling.

Minnesota Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson came skating up ice to lift teammate Antti Laaksonen into the air with a bear hug. Just a little extra affection for Laaksonen after he already had been mobbed by teammates for his overtime goal in a 2-1 victory over the Mighty Ducks on Monday afternoon.

The vacant Duck dressing room afterward emphasized the moment. The sad-sack faces and hushed-toned words from the few players that showed up made it clear that the one point in the standings hardly mattered after the Ducks let a one-goal lead get away midway through the third period.

There were ways to spin this while humming a happy tune. The Ducks picked up three points in two games playing the Wild, a team they are chasing in the standings. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere flirted with another shutout.

But the announced crowd of 13,331 at the Arrowhead Pond saw too much of Roloson and Laaksonen. Roloson denied the Ducks, stopping 30 of 31 shots, and Laaksonen beat them.

"Any time you have the lead going into the third period at home, it should be a two-point night," team captain Paul Kariya said.

Laaksonen made it a two-pointer for the Wild, as he burst up ice, took a pass from Wes Walz and managed to find a small hole to get the puck past Giguere 2 minutes 53 seconds into overtime.

There was little the Ducks could do about that play. The tying goal was a different story.

Defenseman Nick Schultz crashed the net and Kariya got a little lost. Giguere never had a chance, as Schultz one-timed Pascal Dupuis' pass into the net 9:27 into the third period.

"I got a little puck focused," Kariya said. "I saw him at the last second. I have to let the defenseman know he's coming. That's elementary hockey. If I had done it, we would have had the two points."

The ramifications aren't dire, but this was an opportunity lost. Instead of being four points behind the sixth-place Wild, the Ducks are seven.

"I look at the standings today and it looks like to me that a whole bunch of teams are pretty close to being tired," Coach Mike Babcock said.

The Ducks face one those Wednesday, when they play host to the injury-ravaged Kings, who are five points behind the Ducks.

Kicking the Kings when they are down will be easier the way Giguere is playing. He shut out the Wild on Saturday, his second 1-0 victory over Minnesota this season, and continued to annoy the Wild on Monday.

That included a 3:28 stretch in the first period when the Wild was on the power play, 1:28 which was a five-on-three situation, with Giguere making four quality saves. He ran his consecutive goal-less streak to 119:19 before Schultz scored.

The Wild's frustration could be seen ... and heard.

"During the third period, their guys kept telling me, 'shutout, shutout' when they were near the net," Giguere said. "They were trying to remind me and use it against me."

One message came in the first period, when Jeremy Stevenson cross-checked Giguere behind the net. Defenseman Keith Carney went after Stevenson.

"You have to let him know that's not acceptable," Carney said. "You can't go take liberties on our goalie."

Petr Sykora gave Giguere a goal to work with 2:53 into the game. Defenseman Fredrik Olausson made a nifty move around one Wild player and sent a pass to Sykora at the net.

"We need all the points we can get," Carney said. "To not be able to finish them off is definitely disappointing."

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