Paul Kariya and Stephan Lebeau are the Mighty Ducks' artists-in-residence, two players who could put a hat down at a street fair and make money with their playful juggling and sleights of hand.
They're drawn to each other on the ice as much as off it, and their skillful playmaking led to two quick Kariya goals Wednesday in Anaheim's 5-0 victory over the Calgary Flames as Kariya and Lebeau played on a line together for the first time.
The Ducks bid good riddance to the first half of their season with a game that looked little like the first 23, recording their first shutout in more than a year and ending a five-game winless streak. The victory was only their seventh of the season.
Guy Hebert made 29 saves for his fourth career shutout and the Ducks' first since they beat Vancouver, 3-0, on Feb. 4, 1994.
"I tell you, during that third period we were playing for him," Lebeau said. "We know how well he's been playing but he didn't have the wins he deserved."
Hebert has been the victim of a team that has left too many rebounds in front of the net and has been the worst in the NHL at killing penalties. But after what Lebeau called a three-day "mini-camp" in the Canadian Rockies resort town of Banff, the Ducks played physically and with discipline, holding off four Flame power plays.
"We went to Banff for a reason, to regroup and rest," Lebeau said. "We worked hard at practice and watched video. We hope this win is going to be a big boost."
Just having a couple of days without a game or a plane was good for Hebert.
"I must have slept every couple of hours," he said.
Both of the two young defensemen acquired in trades last week, David Karpa and Milos Holan, played against Calgary. Karpa recorded his first point as a Duck on an assist, and Coach Ron Wilson praised their play, saying they added mobility to the defense.
Kariya's ninth and 10th goals of the season, both set up by Lebeau in the first period, moved him ahead of all other rookie scorers with 18 points, and tied him with Edmonton's David Oliver for the goal-scoring lead.
Calgary started backup goalie Andrei Trefilov instead of standout Trevor Kidd, but the Ducks chased him at 9:24 of the second after rookie Steve Rucchin made the lead 3-0. Rucchin scored twice in the second period, and defenseman David Williams scored the other goal.
Kariya was credited with the first goal when his pass for Lebeau at the corner of the net went in off Flame right wing Sheldon Kennedy. He scored his second after Lebeau threaded a pass between two defenders in front of the net.
"Stephan's a great playmaker," Kariya said. "Lately I'm trying to become more of a goal-scorer. I'm more of a natural playmaker but we don't have many goal-scorers so I'm trying to do that."
The two were playing together on a line with Shaun Van Allen only because Todd Krygier was out with a sore groin. Wilson has seen their rapport as they play around in practice and has used them together on the power play, but has resisted the temptation to put them on a regular line because they are both so small. At about 5-10 and 170, they are the two smallest players on the team.
Kariya's skills have been much noted, and Lebeau can playfully bat the puck into the air off his stick, skates and helmet for minutes at a time, like a kid playing hackey-sack.
"We have common interests off the ice," Lebeau said. "I teach him magic and he teaches me juggling.
"Me and Paul like to try things and play with the puck. We have some games going on the ice in practice.
"It was exciting to play together. It always is to play with a guy like Paul."
The bill for the team's rookie dinner, an NHL tradition, came to around $9,000 in Canadian funds. Rookies Paul Kariya, Oleg Tverdovsky, Valeri Karpov and Steve Rucchin picked up the tab for their teammates this week in Banff. "When I was a rookie the bill was $2,000 and I was only making $65,000," said Todd Ewen, an eight-year veteran. "You don't go there and order more than you can eat, but I mean, everybody was curious what a $475 bottle of wine tastes like.". . . Tverdovsky was scratched because of conjunctivitis.