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Firsts for Kariya, Ducks, 4-3

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mighty Duck rookie Paul Kariya is going to be known for the creativity of his moves and his artistry with the puck, but his first NHL goal came Saturday night on the simplest of plays.

With the Ducks batting the puck around in front of the Winnipeg net during the second period of their 4-3 victory over the Jets, Kariya simply jumped on the loose puck in the slot and knocked it past goalie Tim Cheveldae.

As for style points or degree of difficulty, Kariya said “It says one in the paper; it doesn’t say how.”

The goal came on a power play at 12:15 of the second period of his second NHL game. And ordinary as the goal was, it helped mark the beginning of the second-year team’s transition from a band of journeymen and fringe players to a group of talented but inexperienced young players who will be the organization’s future.

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There were five rookies in the lineup Saturday, including defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, who made something of a surprise debut, learning only before the warm-up that he would play. Tverdovsky, the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft, had been hampered for more than three months by groin and foot problems that are being treated with antibiotics after it was discovered they are related to a virus.

He nearly got his first NHL goal in the first period, after yet another rookie, winger Valeri Karpov, sent Kariya out front with a long pass. Tverdovsky, an offensive defenseman known for his speed, caught up to the play and unloaded a shot after Kariya slid a pass across to him. It looked like a goal at first, and Tverdovsky almost began celebrating, but it was ruled that Cheveldae kept the puck from entering the net.

“I just sort of had a gut feeling before the game,” said Coach Ron Wilson, who went with seven defenseman in part because he was concerned about weary legs after the short camp and playing the night before. “This way he could get a good road game under his belt. He passed with flying colors.”

Wilson kept Tverdovsky on the bench in the late going as the Ducks held a one-goal lead, withstanding a power play in the final two minutes and two-man advantage for 55 seconds after Winnipeg pulled its goalie for an extra attacker.

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“We didn’t want to throw him out there at the end and damage his confidence,” Wilson said.

The youngsters made Wilson happy with another play, this one going nearly end-to-end from Tverdovsky to Karpov to Kariya, whose shot hit the crossbar.

The Ducks kept their record against Winnipeg perfect at 5-0 with the help of a four-goal second period after falling behind, 1-0.

Joe Sacco scored the first goal on a nifty pass from his linemate and brother, David Sacco--yet another rookie standout, along with forward Steve Rucchin.

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“Our parents might have seen it on the dish, hopefully,” Joe Sacco said. “If not I’ll give them a buzz tomorrow, they’ll get a kick out of this.”

Patrik Carnback, who returned from Sweden in a 16-hour journey Friday, scored in the slot, showing that playing professionally in his homeland during the lockout has kept him sharp.

Defenseman Bobby Dollas scored the game-winner at 16:41 of the second with a shorthanded slap shot from the point, and goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov made 33 saves while holding off the Jets.


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