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TRANSITION GAME

Carney Responsible for Gaborik's Disappearing Act

May 14, 2003|LONNE WHITE

The way goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been shutting down Minnesota, it's easy to understand why he gets most of the credit for the Mighty Ducks' 2-0 lead over the Wild.

But defenseman Keith Carney, the player mainly responsible for keeping track of Marian Gaborik, certainly deserves high praise for his steady play in making things easier for Giguere.

Carney's strength is his competitiveness. He never quits on a play and his ability to cut off scoring chances before they develop has been priceless for the Ducks.

That was the case for the Ducks' first short-handed goal in Game 2, scored by Kurt Sauer. With Minnesota on a power play, Carney hustled from the sideboards near the blue line to outside the right side of the net and deflected a potential set-up pass by the Wild's Andrew Brunette, who tried to get the puck to an open Segei Zholtok in the slot.

Zholtok took out his frustrations on Steve Rucchin and drew a delayed penalty. While the Ducks had the puck, Zholtok then let up just enough for Dan Bylsma and Rucchin to set up Sauer, who scored his first playoff goal. Effort plays like that have the Ducks in command of the series.

A breakdown of Game 3:

MINNESOTA'S MOVE -- One reason the Wild has been unable to score against the Ducks is that it is not shooting enough from in close. Minnesota has attempted cute passes in the Duck zone instead of just getting the puck on net -- regardless of the angle -- and creating scramble plays.

After a strong start in Game 1, the Wild players have been getting beat to the puck and then outworked in the corners. Minnesota's defensemen started to jump up to help offensively, but that played right into the hands of the crafty Ducks, who took advantage of the tactic with counterattacks. Minnesota Coach Jacques Lemaire has not been reluctant to juggle his lineups, going with 14 in 16 playoff games. It may be time for him to go with his more physical players to jump-start his team after going with more mobile players on Monday. Former King Matt Johnson helped spark the Wild in a must-win Game 5 against Vancouver with a few crunching checks. Minnesota rallied to a 7-2 victory and eventually won the series.

DUCKS' MOVE -- It's hard to complain about the Ducks' failure to stay out of the penalty box against the Wild, considering they scored two short-handed goals in Game 2. But they have been playing with fire, having giving Minnesota eight power plays in the first two games.

Duck penalty killers have been able to keep Minnesota's power play from setting up, and when the Wild has been able to get organized, the Ducks have gotten numerous deflections and simply worked harder for the puck. That kind of play has to continue tonight.

Minnesota's speed has basically become a non-factor because of the Ducks' knack of shutting down the neutral zone. And give the Ducks credit for using their speed. Two of their three goals in the series have been scored on transition plays when the Duck scorer skated away from a Wild defender.

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