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It's Not Going Ducks' Way

Anaheim falls to 0-2 as problems on offense continue during 3-1 loss to Nashville.

October 10, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

NASHVILLE — The Mighty Duck diary for the last three days.

Tuesday: Power outage at Disney Ice cancels practice.

Wednesday morning: Bus breaks down after morning skate.

Wednesday night: Ducks break down against Dallas.

Thursday: Power outage on offense in Nashville helps Ducks lose.

The Ducks book-ended things Thursday with a 3-1 loss to Nashville, ending a season-opening trip that was much worse than they anticipated.

Scoring opportunities came and went for the Ducks. Some were squashed by Predator goalie Tomas Vokoun. Some went awry. Petr Sykora put the puck everywhere but in the net. Sandis Ozolinsh was stopped at every turn.

The 16,684 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center saw the Predators end a 15-game winless streak, dating back to last season. Mighty Duck fans will see an 0-2 team in the Ducks' home opener Sunday.

"We're 0-2 and it is nothing we're pleased or happy about," team captain Steve Rucchin said. "To be saying we're 2-0 would be a little rambunctious, but we needed to get a win here and we didn't get it done."

The Ducks could write off the season-opening 4-1 loss to Dallas Wednesday as almost inevitable. The Stars had been waiting for revenge since the Ducks eliminated them in the playoffs last spring.

The Predators were another matter. This was a team that went 0-10-3-2 at the end of last season. This was also a team that had four players making their NHL debut Thursday, three on defense.

But by the end of the evening, the Ducks were left grading on a curve. They played better than they did against Dallas. They were still winless and had scored only two goals in two games.

"I thought our effort was way better tonight than against Dallas," Duck Coach Mike Babcock said. "I was disappointed in our ability to shoot it into the back of the net. Between Ozolinsh and Sykora alone, I mean they had enough chances to get us what we needed."

Also between Ozolinsh and Sykora at times was Vokoun, who stopped 28 of 29 shots. None was better than when he dived back to his left to make a stick save to deny Ozolinsh of a goal that would have tied the score, 1-1, eight minutes into the third period.

Sykora, who led the Ducks with 34 goals last season, had three shots on goal in the first period. He also had a handful of other good chances that didn't even go on net.

"We all know what a gifted goal scorer Pete is," Rucchin said. "It happens. Unfortunately this was one of those nights. Pete is a goal scorer. This is not going happen very often to him."

To be fair, Sykora was merely the poster boy for the Ducks' missed chances. Ozolinsh and Sergei Fedorov both had five shots and no goals. As was the case Wednesday, all the Ducks got was a Rob Niedermayer goal.

Niedermayer's back-hander, off a touch pass from Sergei Fedorov, cut the Predator lead to 2-1 only 42 seconds into the third period.

The Ducks then got back-to-back power plays during which they barely got into the Predator zone, let alone get off a shot.

The opportunity for a comeback ended when David Legwand finished off a three-on-two by chipping the puck past goaltender Martin Gerber for a 3-1 lead midway through the third period.

"That's two goals and two games," Vaclav Prospal said. "One goal is not going to win you a lot of games."

The Predators made sure that one was not going to be enough after a scoreless first period.

Legwand flipped a backhand pass into the slot, where Andreas Johansson one-timed a shot past Gerber for a power-play goal five minutes into the second period.

Mark Eaton then whacked in a rebound for a 2-0 lead 12 minutes into the period.

"We see how difficult it is going to be for us," Rucchin said. "No game is going to be easy for us. This should be a wake-up call for us."

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