The Mighty Ducks were no offensive juggernaut last season, but now they aren't even getting goals from the handful of players they used to count on.
The Ducks were shut out Friday night for the third time this season, losing to goalie Darcy Wakaluk and the Dallas Stars, 4-0, in front of a sellout crowd of 16,924 at Reunion Arena. It was the second shutout in two games for Wakaluk, a backup goalie who hasn't allowed a goal in the last 160 minutes 22 seconds he has played.
The Stars have won only seven times this season, but they ran their record against the Ducks to 3-0 and have outscored them, 17-3.
Two of the Ducks' leading scorers from last season can't be blamed for the power shortage. Terry Yake, the team's leading scorer last season, and Bill Houlder, the highest scoring defenseman, were both traded.
But the top four returning scorers--Bob Corkum, Garry Valk, Tim Sweeney and Joe Sacco--have combined for a mere five goals. Injuries and a four-game suspension to Sweeney have hindered them, but with such meager production from their few proven scorers, it's no wonder the Ducks are 6-12-1.
"Sure it's frustrating. I'm one of the guys who has to start putting the puck in the net," said Valk, who had 18 goals and 45 points last season but has yet to score a goal this season after missing the first 10 games with a sprained left knee.
"When I first got back, I put a lot of pressure on myself to score right away. I'm trying to get back to basic defensive hockey."
Valk had the last best chance to spoil Wakaluk's shutout, getting off a shot from close range in the final seconds.
"I couldn't believe it didn't go in," he said. "I think it just went over the net."
Corkum's 23 goals last season led the team, but he has only one this season. He missed four games because of a concussion, and has yet to get untracked.
Sacco, back in the lineup after missing seven games with a bruised left thumb, has three goals after scoring 19 last season, most of them in a torrid second half.
And Sweeney? He has been buried at the bottom of the lineup despite being the third-leading returning scorer. He has played in only eight games and has one goal.
"When you miss two or three weeks, it's tough to get going," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "Then those players start pressing because they feel pressure because they were relatively successful last year. It will come with time."
Dallas scored the only goal it would need 3 1/2 minutes into the game when rookie Todd Harvey knocked down a clearing attempt by defenseman Randy Ladouceur near the blue line and skated in alone to beat Guy Hebert. Harvey also scored the final goal of the game, his third of the season.
Russ Courtnall made it 2-0 in the second period with a sharp-angled shot from the far side of the right circle that beat Hebert on the opposite side, and Dallas scored two more in the third.
The best chance among the Ducks' 29 shots might have been Paul Kariya's opportunity on a two-on-none rush with Corkum, but Kariya's shot went wide as Wakaluk appeared to tip it with his glove.
"It's tough mentally when you're winning one and losing five," said center Patrik Carnback, who has gone 10 games without a goal. "We're hesitating when we get up on the play, and every time we turn around they seem to score one on us. That gives you a lack of confidence."
Rookie Valeri Karpov, who was sent to San Diego to recover his confidence, had two goals and an assist for the Gulls at Milwaukee on Wednesday and an assist Friday in Houston. After three games with San Diego he has five points, surpassing his total of three points in 14 games with the Ducks. He is expected to return after a short stint. . . . Center Anatoli Semenov missed a second consecutive game because of a bruised left knee.