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Ducks Look for Solutions to Scoring Drought

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Troy Loney stood in the center of the Mighty Duck dressing room, rubbing his chin while pondering a question.

It took a moment to search the memory banks of his 11 NHL seasons, but he had the answer.

“I don’t think three,” he said. “Two a couple of times, but not three.”

Loney wasn’t the only one searching for answers Wednesday.

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The Ducks established a dubious first, extending to 188 minutes 23 seconds--more than three full games--their scoreless streak. This time the Buffalo Sabres and goaltender Dominik Hasek pinned a shutout on the Ducks.

For the record, the 3-0 score means the Ducks have been outscored, 12-0, in losses to San Jose on Sunday, Chicago on Tuesday and Buffalo on Wednesday.

To be sure, Arturs Irbe, Ed Belfour and Hasek are tough goalies to beat, but the Ducks wouldn’t pin their offensive woes on anyone but themselves.

“We can’t just flick a switch and change things,” said Todd Ewen, who probably wishes he could.

The Ducks haven’t scored since the third period of a 6-3 victory over the last-place Edmonton Oilers Friday. The honor went to Joe Sacco, whose power-play goal proved to be the the game clincher.

Since Friday, the Ducks have fired 80 shots at opposing goalies and come away empty.

“It’s very frustrating right now,” Sacco said. “We’re in a little bit of a drought right now. We’ve played well, but not quite good enough. We’ve got to stay positive. It’s easy to get down. When you lose three in a row, you start shaking your head.”

No one cracked a stick over the boards at the final buzzer. No one chucked equipment around the dressing room.

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On the ice, the Ducks might simply be trying too hard, according to Ewen.

“We’re definitely pressing in the corners,” he said. “We’re getting caught with three guys behind the net. We’ve got to change that, get guys back where they’re supposed to be and stick to defensive hockey.

“The first goal we get isn’t going to be a pretty goal. It won’t be tic-tac-toe top shelf. It’ll probably be ugly, off somebody’s butt and into the net.

“The only way (to score) is to shoot as often as possible.”

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The Ducks’ playoff aspirations are probably history now, but there remains much to be accomplished. For starters, they need to take each part of their next game and master it, hoping all the little things lead to something good.

At least that’s Ewen’s theory.

“We need to go out and win the next game, work hard on the next shift,” he said. “Our defensive game is very important. It’s baby steps all the way.”

Loney, the team’s captain, has noticed only one change and it’s not a good one.

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“We’re all frustrated,” he said. “It wears on you. We have to stay in the positive frame of mind. We can’t just let it knock us out of the playoffs.”


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