There was no great gnashing of teeth by the Mighty Ducks after they lost to St. Louis, 4-2, in a decently played game Sunday at The Pond.
"What can I do? When the effort's there and the other team's better, I can't be upset," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "We don't have Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Al MacInnis and a lot of other near all-stars."
The Ducks don't have a single player who has ever been in an NHL all-star game. The Blues have 28 all-star game appearances among them, and seven players who have won the Stanley Cup--including Esa Tikkanen, who has won five of them.
The state of the Ducks' season is such that they are focused on trying to play better and win some games. The playoffs? A late-season run would be nice, but the last-place Ducks need to focus on 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, 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 an unusual goal in the second period when his blistering slap shot whizzed past goalie Curtis Joseph and tore through the back of the net. The goal judge failed to note this and play continued. At the next stoppage in play 42 seconds later, a video review gave Dollas his due and linesman Brad Lazarowich gave the net a makeshift repair job by tying 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 Glenn Anderson, Steve Duchesne and Shanahan scored for St. Louis. After leaving the penalty box, Anderson scored at 8:22 of the first period on a breakaway after picking up a pass. Duchesne lifted a pass from Tikkanen into the net at 16:04 of the first period and Shanahan put in a rebound at 3:36 of the second period 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 at 13:14 of the first period and assisted on Dollas' goal, both on the power play. The onetime checking-line center is only two points behind Paul Kariya, who leads the team in scoring. Van Allen leads the Ducks in assists (16) and has nine in the last five games. Kariya, who picked up two assists, 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 Ducks' biggest problem Sunday was allowing four goals. 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.
Defenseman Milos Holan, acquired from Philadelphia for Anatoli Semenov, had an assist, his third in three games. . . . Defenseman Randy Ladouceur (bruised left ankle) missed his fourth consecutive game and defenseman Tom Kurvers (sprained left wrist) and winger Todd Krygier (groin strain) missed their third consecutive games. Defenseman David Williams and forward Tim Sweeney were healthy scratches. . . . The sellout crowd of 17,174 was the 36th consecutive dating to last season.