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Ducks Struck by Tampa Bay : Hockey: The Lightning rallies in third period for 4-2 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks have encountered their X-factor.

Expansion teams.

They banned the word expansion from their vocabulary, but they can’t ban the NHL’s other new teams from their schedule. And after a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay at Anaheim Arena Sunday in a game they dominated for the first two periods, the Ducks are 0-6 against the league’s other young teams.

The Ducks outshot the Lightning, 41-23, and led, 2-1, going into the third period.

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But the Ducks were 0 for 7 on the power play and the opportunities they didn’t take made them vulnerable. Tampa Bay made them pay with three third-period goals, including an empty-netter with 48 seconds left.

“I don’t know if we expect a 2-1 lead against a team like Tampa Bay to be enough, but any team--Tampa Bay for sure with Petr Klima and Denis Savard--has enough firepower to put you away if you let down for a little bit,” right wing Terry Yake said. “We let down and didn’t come to work in the third period.”

The third period turned as the Ducks had to fear that it would. The Lightning tied the score at 2:31 on Klima’s deflection of Chris LiPuma’s point shot. Before the period was half over, Tampa Bay led, 3-2, after Marc Bureau picked up a neutral-zone pass from Chris Joseph, who had just emerged from the penalty box, and broke out front alone. Goalie Ron Tugnutt made the first save on the breakaway, but Bureau swatted his rebound between Tugnutt’s pads to score.

“The two (defensemen Bill Houlder and Alexei Kasatonov) were rushing up and probably didn’t realize the situation timewise,” Coach Ron Wilson said. “They lose the puck and both turned the wrong way, each one probably assuming the other one’s covering.

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“We’ve made those same mistakes in some other close games and we should have learned from our previous mistakes, but it’s the same couple of people make the same mistakes.

“This is a big game for us. You have to win games like this, we’re playing a tired team. We lost our patience and poise and took our jolly old sweet time in the first five minutes of the third period and it cost us.”

It was an ugly loss, because it looked so much like a victory until the third period.

The lead was 2-1 after goals by Todd Ewen and Steven King in the first period, but the second period was not a thing of beauty. Among the lowlights were Joe Reekie’s cross-check into the boards on Duck winger Garry Valk that left Valk motionless on the ice.

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Valk suffered a concussion and required four stitches above his right eye, and Reekie earned a five-minute major and a game misconduct. But the Ducks wasted the five-minute power play that included a two-man advantage for a minute.

Tampa Bay managed only three shots during the period, and the Ducks’ lead on the shot clock ballooned to 31-12.

But from the Ducks’ perspective, that wasn’t all good news. They had enjoyed far too many chances to be clinging to a one-goal lead. They had trouble finishing chances, with King fanning in front of the net and Shaun Van Allen hitting goalie Daren Puppa’s skate on a breakaway, to mention a couple.

“I think you’ve got to give Daren Puppa some credit,” Wilson said. “He looked a little shaky in the beginning, but he came on and made some great saves. We didn’t find the chink in the armor. The bottom line is Daren Puppa won the game for them, simple as that. You have over 40 shots and basically we outshot them 2-1. You do that, usually the goalie has done an outstanding job, and he did.”

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