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‘Great One’ Shows Way for Kariya : Hockey: Gretzky, with a goal and two assists, finds the Kings’ 4-2 victory over the Ducks mighty enjoyable.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks’ Paul Kariya looked for all the world like Wayne Gretzky when he threw a perfect no-look pass far across the ice to Patrik Carnback for the Ducks’ first goal Monday night.

But Gretzky is still inimitable--as Kariya is the first to agree--and he set up Tony Granato beautifully for one goal, scored another himself, and assisted on a third in the Kings’ 4-2 victory over the Ducks in front of 17,174 at The Pond of Anaheim.

With his three-point performance, Gretzky moved into a three-way tie for fourth place in the NHL scoring race with 26 points. Mario Lemieux is first with 37.

Kariya had a goal and an assist, tying his career-high point streak at eight games and moving him to eighth place with 24 points.

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“It’s nice sitting on our side and having a weapon like Paul, instead of just watching Gretzky all the time,” Duck forward Peter Douris said. “It’s a pleasure watching Gretzky and watching Paul.”

Gretzky also moved into sole possession of first place in scoring against the Ducks: No other opponent has scored more than his 18 points.

“It was an important game,” Gretzky said. “They’re one of the best teams in the league right now. We saw their games against the Rangers and Jersey and they were dominating games.”

The Ducks threatened to dominate the Kings early, outshooting them in the first 13-5 and 23-14 through two periods. But goalie Jamie Storr, making his first start since Halloween and playing only his fourth game this season, withstood the barrage, finishing with 32 saves. The Ducks’ Guy Hebert made 25.

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“I thought it was a great performance all-around,” King Coach Larry Robinson said. “We were coming against a team that had lost only one of its last six games. Our penalty killers did a good job and we got a very strong performance from Jamie Storr in net. The kid hasn’t played in a while.”

Byron Dafoe has been so spectacular that Storr has only watched recently, but with back-to-back games Monday and tonight against Detroit, Robinson gave him a night off.

Storr was sharp--and needed to be. He had no chance when Carnback one-timed Kariya’s pass high into the net at 6:40 of the first, and Kariya simply out-waited him on the second, putting the puck around him after Storr dove helplessly to the ice as Kariya cut the Kings’ lead to 3-2 at 8:17 of the third.

“One thing you have to do to stay sharp is practice like you’re getting ready to play,” Storr said. “You’ve got to eat well and sleep well, because when you get in, you’ve got no excuses. You can’t say you’re tired.”

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Gretzky pulled the Kings into a 1-1 tie at 14:54 of the first when he stick-handled through the slot and then threaded a pass between two Duck players onto the outstretched blade of Granato’s stick. It was the sixth goal of the season for Granato, who joined Gretzky and Vitali Yachmenev’s line.

Granato--who also had two assists--gave the puck to Gretzky in the neutral zone early in the second period and Gretzky carried it across the blue line, unleashing a rising slap shot from the top of the right circle for a 2-1 lead at 15:53.

“I figured it was time for me to get one,” Gretzky said of the goal, his fifth.

“I’ve given Yachmenev enough this year. Normally I would pass in that situation. This time I just felt like shooting.”

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Kevin Todd scored what proved to be the game-winner at 17:48 of the second when Robert Lang found him open at the corner of the net after two Ducks went to Lang, with Mike Sillinger leaving the net.

After Kariya’s goal, his 14th, Rick Tocchet finished the scoring at 15:25 of the third.

*

Hockey Notes

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The Kings traded defenseman Michel Petit before the game, sending him to Tampa Bay for defenseman Steven Finn. Petit, 31, had played in nine games this season, and had one assist and 27 penalty minutes. Finn, 29, was scoreless with 24 penalty minutes in 16.


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