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Ducks Like a Broken Record

Anaheim is 0-4 for first time in franchise history after 3-0 loss to Ottawa, and has only two goals this season.

October 18, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The Mighty Ducks have returned to their groundbreaking ways. The team that went to the mountaintop last spring, reaching the Stanley Cup finals, reached new territory Friday -- the worst four-game start in franchise history.

Ottawa's 3-0 victory in front of an announced 13,885 at the Arrowhead Pond on Friday night brought the Ducks to this new level. After all the hopes heading into the season, the Ducks have quickly reached a level where simple things, like scoring a goal and winning one game, are now high on their to-do list.

Vaclav Varada scored less than a minute into the game. Bryan Smolinski gave the Senators breathing room with an all-too-easy chance midway through the third period. Goaltender Patrick Lalime made that stand up with his 29th career shutout. Marian Hossa added a little salt to the Ducks' wounds with an empty-net goal.

"Certainly a victory would relieve some of the pressure, but we're not out to win just one game," Sergei Fedorov said. "We want to get rolling and play with energy every game. But we can't be greedy. Let's start with one [game]."

Maybe Sunday against the Boston Bruins.

The Ducks certainly came out of Friday's feeling better about themselves, not that it counts in the standings. They are the only team in the NHL without a point this season.

"From my perspective, that was the first time in four games that I have seen life out there by us," Coach Mike Babcock said. "We dug ourselves a pretty good hole here. It may take more than one game to dig out."

The hole is unprecedented. In 10 seasons, the Ducks have finished last in the Pacific Division four times. Yet never have they started a season 0-4.

"They probably have a stronger team than they had last season," Ottawa Coach Jacques Martin said. "They made some acquisitions and I'm sure they will be all right. But every night teams are going to be prepared for you.... You have to have that edge."

Numbers don't lie, even if the effort was better. The Ducks are winless. They have scored only two goals this season. They are riding a 139-minute 18-second goal-less streak. They were also booed off the ice at game's end Friday.

Yet the Ducks said they see better days ahead and are certain that it is not a mirage.

"As difficult and as frustrating as it is right now, we've got to stay positive," team captain Steve Rucchin said. "Obviously this is not the start we wanted, but this was the first legitimate game as a team we have had in four games."

For the fourth game, the Ducks never led. The Senators out-worked them along the boards and Zdeno Chara fired a shot from the blue line. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made the save, but Varada, left unchecked at the crease, dug the puck out and stuck it in the net for a 1-0 lead 52 seconds into the game.

Lalime made the one goal stand up until the third period. He made 27 saves, none netter than two on Stanislav Chistov with the Ducks on the power play early in the third period.

Fedorov continued to come close and continued to come up empty. Early in the first period, he flicked a rebound at the net, only to have the puck go off the post, keeping the game scoreless.

"I've seen streaks like this sometimes, yeah, but not like this from the beginning of the season," Fedorov said. "Maybe a guy or two, but not the whole team at the start the season."

Smolinski made sure that a break-through didn't occur Friday. He parked by the Duck net, took a Peter Schaefer pass from behind the net and slid a soft shot past Giguere.

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