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Ducks Come Close but Fall Way Short : Hockey: Two Maple Leaf goals in final 63 seconds end hopes of extending streak.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks were tied with Toronto with eight minutes left on Tuesday.

With less than two minutes left, they were down by a goal and still looking for an opportunity to pull goalie Guy Hebert for an extra attacker to try to force overtime.

But when the game ended, the score was an ugly 6-3 after the Ducks gave up two goals in the final 63 seconds before 15,673 at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The game turned when Mats Sundin made a spectacular play at 12:44 of the third, outskating fleet Duck defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky on a short-handed rush, then beating Hebert through the narrow opening Hebert left low on the short side of the net for a 4-3 lead.

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The score was certainly worse than the loss, but there were more troublesome aspects for the Ducks than seeing their franchise record-tying four-game winning streak end. Such as: How do they reverse a road record of 1-7? And how was it that Hebert, brilliant for more than a week, was suddenly rather ordinary?

Duck Coach Ron Wilson praised Maple Leaf goalie Felix Potvin to high heaven, which seemed a not-so-subtle criticism of Hebert.

“Felix Potvin won the game in the third period. He made great saves and we didn’t get huge saves. What are you going to do?” Wilson said.

Asked if he was surprised Hebert gave up two goals in the first 10 minutes after giving up barely two a game in his last five starts, Wilson said, “I was a little surprised by all the goals, to be honest.”

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Hebert, who has rolled with Wilson’s criticism with mixed feelings, said if Wilson was trying to send him a message, “I think it’s detrimental. I don’t want to get into anything in the newspaper because we have a good relationship. I think he probably believes Potvin made one more big save than I did. That’s life. You take it from there.”

Mike Gartner beat Hebert high only 3:25 into the game to give Toronto its first lead on a goal assisted by defenseman Larry Murphy, 34, who entered the game needing one assist to pass King Coach Larry Robinson and move into fourth on the all-time scoring list for defensemen.

Murphy, who started his NHL career with the Kings in 1980, responded with three assists, giving him 961 points. He trails only Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque and Denis Potvin among defensemen.

“It’s special, and I’m sure with time, when I’m done playing, it will mean quite a bit,” Murphy said. “But I’m not done yet.”

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Toronto led, 2-0, after Todd Gill scored at 9:53, with Hebert down in a split after contact with teammate Jason York. Hebert complained that York was pushed onto him, but got no satisfaction.

“I was pretty irritated. Somebody pushed Jason York right on top of me and knocked me out of the play,” Hebert said.

The Ducks recovered, though, tying the score, 2-2, on goals by Mike Sillinger and Bob Corkum.

Doug Gilmour scored the first of his two goals by redirecting a perfect power-play pass from Murphy to give Toronto a 3-2 lead at 15:06 of the second. But the Ducks tied the score again when Joe Sacco put in the rebound after a flashy move in the slot by rookie center Chad Kilger.

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“It’s a 3-3 game, I was thinking about how we were going to win it in overtime,” Hebert said. “For it to end up like it did, you’re shaking your head.”

Duck Notes

Coach Ron Wilson criticized what he considered inconsistent officiating by referee Richard Trottier, saying, “This is like, I don’t know, Yahtzee. They’re rolling the dice, it could go either way.”. . . At Maple Leaf Gardens last season, Wilson complained he got no respect from referee Mick McGeough. “Pat Burns yells at them and it’s, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Burns,”’ Wilson said. “I yell and it’s ‘Shut up, you punk.’ ”. . . Left wing Todd Krygier sat out a second game because of a bruised left thigh, and he wasn’t pleased after hearing that the Rangers’ Ulf Samuelsson won’t get an NHL suspension for kneeing him to cause injury, as the Ducks contended. “If I was a big-name player, it would be a different story. But it’s me, so . . . " Krygier said. . . . Right wing Todd Ewen, whose left hand is still sore from earlier injuries, left the game and didn’t return because of pain in the hand after a fight with Ken Baumgartner in the second.


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