Mark it down somewhere, save it for future reference to someday recall the moment the Mighty Ducks scored their first goal.
Fifty-one minutes 31 seconds after they dropped an NHL puck for the first time Saturday in Anaheim Arena, the Ducks finally put a shot past an opposing goalie.
When it happened--when Bobby Dollas slammed a rebound past Pittsburgh’s Phillippe deRouville on the Ducks’ 21st shot on goal--16,673 screamed their approval. It didn’t matter that the Ducks were hopelessly beaten by then, made to look like, well, an expansion team struggling to make the simplest things work. At least they had finally scored.
Later, after Pittsburgh had won, 5-2, Dollas said he felt happier for the fans than for himself.
The fans cheered every Duck hit, first cheered but later booed Marty McSorley when he fought with Todd Ewen and Stu (the Grim Reaper) Grimson. But they seemed more frustrated than the Ducks by the team’s inability to finish their scoring chances.
Terry Yake had a shot at an open net early in the game, but couldn’t score. Other chances came but went awry against Penguin goalie Ken Wregget and deRouville, who replaced him in the third period. At last, Dollas scored with 9:29 remaining.
Offense didn’t figure to be this team’s strength, not with the likes of Grimson patrolling the ice. If one exhibition game is any indication, the Ducks will have problems packing any scoring punch. They appear to be a team bent on working hard in the corners and unwilling to back down from confrontation.
“I felt we were very respectable,” Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. “Our big players played big. The only thing we couldn’t do tonight was score goals.”
The Penguins, minus Mario Lemieux and Rick Tocchet on Saturday, had no such difficulties, building a 4-0 lead midway through the third period.
But then Patrik Carnback picked up a loose puck and raced toward the goal. He fired a high shot at deRouville, who made the save, but Dollas pounced on the rebound and made history.
“I didn’t even look,” Dollas said. “I just put it toward the middle of the net and he wasn’t there. I’m happy to score that goal, not only for me but for the fans. They were just waiting to cheer for something good. They’re great fans.”
If Dollas wasn’t the unlikeliest player to record the first Duck exhibition goal, then he was a close second to Grimson. Dollas, a 28-year-old defenseman who played for Adirondack of the American Hockey League last season, wasn’t going to play Saturday, but Alexei Kasatonov was ill, so Dollas got the call.
He didn’t disappoint.
Neither did Yake, who scored with a little less than four minutes left, lessening the burden of missed opportunities. He, too, seemed happy to give the crowd something to yell about.
“You could tell they were really humming and I knew they would erupt when we finally scored a goal,” said Yake, the only 20-goal scorer on the Duck roster.