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Ducks Pause for a Second, Lose

Middle-period letdown is costly in 4-3 shootout loss to Dallas, which still has Anaheim's number.

October 16, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

The Ducks will play the Dallas Stars seven more times this season, so they still have enough opportunities to loosen the hold the defending Pacific Division champions have on them.

Even when Andy McDonald's desperation goal with 18.2 seconds left in regulation Sunday night appeared to change their luck, the dramatic moment only put off the inevitable. The game proceeded to overtime and then the shootout, which the Stars are good at and the Ducks are not.

Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen made it look easy against the Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere while Stars goalkeeper Marty Turco made two stops in three tries to lift Dallas to a 4-3 victory at the Honda Center and preserve the Stars' undefeated start.

The Stars extended their dominance in the series from last season, when they won six of eight meetings.

The Ducks lost their second consecutive game by shootout, though they did salvage a point after being down, 3-1, midway through the third period.

That's what Coach Randy Carlyle focused on afterward.

"There's no quit in this group," he said. "It's a divisional rival. They're a hockey club that dominated us last year and we found a way to get back in it and have an opportunity to win."

The Ducks managed that with a spirited rally after a damaging second-period letdown for the second consecutive game. Dallas, one of three teams with 5-0 records, scored two power-play goals, three in all, to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Teemu Selanne's early hooking penalty in the second and Rob Niedermayer's four-minute high-sticking penalty left the Ducks two men down and Sergei Zubov converted on the five-on-three advantage against Ilya Bryzgalov, who made his second start in goal and first in more than a week.

Bryzgalov looked sharp in turning aside nine shots in the first period, but he committed an unpardonable sin in Carlyle's eyes by letting in Niklas Hagman's shot at 8:40 of the second period.

Carlyle inserted Giguere less than three minutes later.

"I don't like short-side goals and he let two in on the short side," Carlyle said. "We were flat as a group in the period. I thought [changing goalies] would help our composure."

The Ducks, though, couldn't stay out of the penalty box. Rookie defenseman Shane O'Brien was whistled for hooking Eric Lindros, and Antti Miettinen made it 3-1 on the power play.

"When you play a great hockey team like Dallas and [don't] come out and do the things we want to try and do, at least in the second, they're going to make you pay," defenseman Scott Niedermayer said.

The two-goal deficit served as a wake-up call. The Ducks dominated the third, pulling closer when Rob Niedermayer fought off defenseman Trevor Daley and shoveled a pass back to his brother, who punched it past Turco.

They pulled Giguere for an extra attacker with 1:18 remaining. Samuel Pahlsson won a faceoff and drew it back to Scott Niedermayer, who passed it to Chris Pronger. Pronger uncorked a point-blank shot through traffic that hit McDonald's skate on the way to the net.

"We played the game in three parts," Carlyle said. "Two of them were good for us and one was awful. But we're going to build on the positives."

The Stars showed in their first Southern California trip that they aren't quite ripe for a fall. Most preseason predictions had either the Ducks or the San Jose Sharks winning the Pacific, which the Stars have won in five of the last seven seasons.

"We always seem to be lost in the shuffle," Stars forward Mike Modano said. "We've never been picked at the start of the season to do much. I think that's good. It gives us a bit of a motivating factor to come out and prove everybody wrong over again."

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eric.stephens@latimes.com

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