There was no great gnashing of teeth by the Mighty Duck players after they lost to St. Louis, 4-2, in a well-played game Sunday at The Pond of Anaheim.
"What can I do?" said Duck Coach Ron Wilson. "When the effort's there and the other team's better, I can't be upset. We don't have Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Al MacInnis and a lot of other near all-stars."
In fact, the Ducks don't have a player who has ever been in an NHL all-star game. The Blues have 28 all-star appearances among them, and seven players who have won the Stanley Cup--including Esa Tikkanen, who has won five.
The Ducks are merely focused on trying to play better and win some games. The playoffs? A late-season run would be nice, but the last-place Ducks have more immediate tasks, and there is such a thing as progress without winning.
"You have to be able, after the game, to look at yourself in the mirror and say you did your best," defenseman Bobby Dollas said. "The first half (of the season), a lot of guys, myself included, could not look in the mirror.
"The last couple of games we've been playing the top teams in the conference, and we stayed with them."
Dollas scored a rather unusual goal in the second period when his blistering slap-shot whizzed past goalie Curtis Joseph and tore through the back of the net, unnoticed by the goal judge.
Play continued but, 42 seconds later, after a video review, Dollas got his due and the net got a makeshift repair job as linesman Brad Lazarowich tied the hole off with knots.
"I knew it went through because the net moved and the goalie wasn't in the net," Dollas said. "As soon as the whistle blew, I went to (referee) Rob Shick and said, 'You better check that. I'm sure it went in.' "
Joseph had a pretty good idea too.
"I kind of suspected that's what happened because it hit the bottom of the glass, and the bottom of the glass is lower than the crossbar," he said.
Dollas' goal cut the Blues' lead to 3-2 at 7:50 of the second, and extended his point streak to five games.
"The only thing now is that we're going to have to hear about it for the next three years or something," teammate Bob Corkum said. "He'll be saying, 'Wow, I've got the hardest shot in the league.' "
The Ducks trailed, 3-1, after St. Louis goals by Glenn Anderson, Steve Duchesne and Shanahan. Anderson scored on a breakaway after picking up a pass on his way out of the penalty box; Duchesne lifted a pass from Tikkanen into the net, and Shanahan put in a rebound after Duck goalie Guy Hebert lost sight of a rebound and failed to cover. Vitali Karamnov scored the Blues' last goal 1:26 into the third period off a rebound as MacInnis collected his third assist.
Shaun Van Allen scored the Ducks' first goal and assisted on Dollas' goal, both on power plays, and the one-time checking-line center is only two points behind Paul Kariya for the team scoring lead. Van Allen leads the team in assists with 16 and has nine in the last five games. Kariya, who assisted on both goals, has 22 points and has a six-game point streak, the longest in team history. He has had two points in each of the last five games.
The biggest problem with Sunday's performance was simply the "4" under St. Louis on the scoreboard. The Ducks have given up four or more goals 13 times this season, and won only once.
"We're not going to win many games when we give up four goals," Wilson said.