Ducks Improve, Settle for a Tie : Hockey: Anaheim gets off season-high 33 shots but game with Vancouver ends up 2-2.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a game between a second-year team and a Stanley Cup finalist--and it was a struggle between last-place teams.

If the Mighty Ducks think they are disappointed with their position, they should consider the Vancouver Canucks, who took the New York Rangers to seven games in the Stanley Cup finals last June.

The Ducks took the Canucks to overtime Friday night after David Williams' third-period goal, but settled for a 2-2 tie in front of 17,174 at The Pond of Anaheim.

The first three goals of the game were scored in a stretch of 73 seconds during the first period, and Vancouver still led, 2-1, well into the third period.

But the Ducks--who had scored only one goal over their last three games before Friday--finally started to buzz a little.

First, rookie Valeri Karpov used his speed to get out front, but he didn't get enough on the shot to get it past Vancouver goalie Kay Whitmore. A bit later, defenseman Randy Ladouceur hit the post with a shot that seemed to rattle out.

The Ducks finally tied the score, 2-2, when defenseman Williams found the puck after a shot by Karpov was blocked, then lifted a shot toward the net from high in the slot. The puck hit Vancouver's Greg Adams as he skated toward the crease and went into his own net off of him at 11:51 of the third.

Overtime was back to dullness, with the Canucks managing one shot and the Ducks two. These were teams that needed a point.

The biggest question for the Ducks lately has been what their biggest problem is. Offense, defense, the power play, the penalty-killing. They were all candidates.

Their 33 shots against the Canucks were a season-high, and the power play looked better with center Patrik Carnback taking over the left point. But they were still 0 for 5, stretching their streak without a power-play goal to 30 opportunities.

The Ducks also gave up yet another shorthanded goal, their sixth of the season and the most of any NHL team.

This one came after Anatoli Semenov whiffed in front of the net on a pass from Paul Kariya, then tossed his stick onto the ice at the puck, perhaps after breaking the stick. Pavel Bure helped send the puck up the left-wing boards to Greg Adams for a breakaway, and Adams faked Guy Hebert to the ice and then put the puck over him into the net for a 1-0 lead at 14:47 of the first.

The Ducks tied the score quickly after Steve Rucchin won a faceoff in the Vancouver zone and defenseman Bobby Dollas scored with a shot from the left point that hit the top of the net, upsetting goalie Kay Whitmore's water bottle.

Duck rookie Paul Kariya was back in the lineup after missing a game with a sore back. He recorded an assist for his first point after going scoreless in five games. Kariya, 20, had seven points in his first seven games, but hadn't scored again until Friday night.

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Duck Notes

In a notably slow and somewhat surprising decision, the NHL has suspended Duck forward Tim Sweeney for four games without pay for a Feb. 9 slashing incident against Calgary's Phil Housley, who suffered a broken little finger on his right hand. In addition, Sweeney was fined $500, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. Sweeney and Housley both received minor penalties for slashing on the play, and Duck Coach Ron Wilson said Housley slashed Sweeney first. But Brian Burke, NHL senior vice president and director of hockey operations said in a news release that Sweeney was punished because he caused the injury after he "shifted his stick to a baseball-type grip and administered a two-handed slash." Jim Gregory, the NHL vice president for hockey operations was at The Pond on Friday and said, "the thing we're trying to get through to the players is that they've got to be responsible for their stick." Sweeney, who has one goal in eight games, did not play Friday night and will also miss the next three games. . . . Center Bob Corkum, a player Coach Ron Wilson plans to use at right wing some because the team is carrying six forwards, was scratched because of illness. Stephan Lebeau, who had been scratched the past two games in favor of bigger defensive centers, played instead.

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