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Lupul Ends Up on the Plus Side

The rookie forward's goal in the third period on a power play gives Mighty Ducks a 1-1 tie with the Blackhawks.

October 27, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

For Mighty Duck Joffrey Lupul, there were two sizable pluses -- and we're not talking about those of the plus-minus variety -- when the puck went in the net past Michael Leighton of the Chicago Blackhawks.

1) His shot was the first to get past Leighton, giving him two goals in his last two games, a streak starting after he was a healthy scratch Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

2) His shot, a blast, really, meant he might elude the wrath of the coaching staff.

At this point, for a rookie forward, No. 2 might be almost as important as No. 1.

"I was hoping it was [in] because I was supposed to be standing in front of the net," said Lupul, who got off the one-timer from the left circle. "If it doesn't go in, I might be in a little trouble."

As it was, trouble was averted for the Ducks with his third-period, power-play goal at 12 minutes 50 seconds, erasing Chicago's one-goal lead. For the second time in three games, the Ducks went to overtime and emerged with a 1-1 tie, this time against the Blackhawks on Sunday night in front of 12,845 at the Arrowhead Pond.

The crowd was considerably smaller than the announced figure, but probably had more to do with many fans unable to get to the game because of the wild fires in Southern California.

It represented something of a mini-step in the right direction for the Ducks after Friday's miserable collapse against the Buffalo Sabres in the third period, which led to a players-only meeting.

"A point for us -- I know it's easy to be disappointed -- but a point for us when we're battling to try find ourselves and find an identity, I think it's important," Coach Mike Babcock said.

"If you stand back and look, we've got points in four of five games. But you're watching and I'm watching and I'm saying to myself, 'Let's get to another level. Let's get some urgency.' And so, the way I look at it, we've got to start somewhere."

Said goaltender Martin Gerber, who faced 26 shots: "This was huge for our confidence. We need to get every point along the way. It wasn't a great game, but we came back from one-goal down. We have to be happy about that."

The Blackhawks, playing their third road game in four nights, took the lead with left wing Kyle Calder's goal at 7:08 of the second period. The goal was given to Calder but an embarrassed defenseman Todd Simpson said he knocked it in during what was a wild scramble in front of the net.

"We got big efforts from a lot of people, especially after playing last night," Coach Brian Sutter said. "We just played smart. We were all smart ... you have to have that. You can't have any passengers."

The tying-goal came on a savvy play from defenseman Niclas Havelid, who looked as if he were going to shoot from just inside the blue line, but instead slid the puck to Lupul, who was calling for it. Lupul put all into the shot.

"I didn't want to make any mistake," he said. "I wanted to make sure I buried that one."

Said Havelid: "Rucch [Steve Rucchin] got the puck back to me and I was just by myself. I saw a guy was on his way down to block the shot. He [Lupul] was yelling at me. He was calling for it."

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