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Resurgent Ducks Open Trip With Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Guy Hebert is back to his old self, Alex Hicks is better than anybody ever thought he could be, and Steven King scored a goal he thought he might never see.

The Mighty Ducks, in dire circumstances a week and a half ago, have a three-game unbeaten streak after defeating the Calgary Flames, 3-1, in front of 16,821 at the Saddledome Friday night in the first game of a difficult six-game trip.

Hebert, whose head was spinning as pucks went past him most of last month, has put together three strong performances and shut out the Flames until midway through the third period.

“I had a very comfortable feeling, not that they weren’t going to score, but that I was seeing the puck,” said Hebert, who made 38 saves, 22 in the third period. “We’re real fortunate to have a good start to this long road trip. We had four days of tough practice this week after a couple of horrendous games at home last month. Our hard work paid off.”

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Hicks, a Calgary native who was not drafted, scored two goals in an arena where he has watched probably 100 games, wishing he could play for the Flames. Signed from a minor league team last summer, he’s playing on the Ducks’ first line with Paul Kariya.

“It’s been great,” said Hicks, who has been centering Kariya and Garry Valk the last three games. “He’s [Kariya] one of the best players in the world right now, and he makes you so much better. He makes you twice the player you are. Playing with him is unbelievable.”

Hicks had the longest road to the NHL, but King has had the longest road back. At 26, he has come back from reconstructive surgery on both shoulders.

“It’s just nice to get an NHL goal. I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to get another,” said King, whose last NHL goal was Jan. 19, 1994. “It came exactly one year from my last surgery, Jan. 5 last year.”

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In a defense-oriented game, neither team managed double digits in shots in either of the first two periods. But the Ducks took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the second when Hicks put a rebound of Oleg Tverdovsky’s shot into a nearly open net past Calgary goalie Trevor Kidd. It was the first of three assists for Tverdovsky.

King made the score 2-0 at 11:01 when he deflected a shot by Kariya with the Ducks on a power play. Kariya had two assists in the game.

Hicks scored his second goal when he kept the puck and beat Kidd after Tverdovsky sent him out on a two-on-one just after a Calgary power play expired at 7:25 of the third.

Phil Housley ended Hebert’s shutout bid at 10:34, but Hebert staved off the rest of Calgary’s shots, including over the final 1:03 after Calgary pulled Kidd for an extra attacker.

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The Ducks welcomed back center Shaun Van Allen, who was out seven weeks for thumb surgery.

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Duck Notes

Paul Kariya figures to be the Ducks’ representative to the All-Star game when the reserves are announced next week.

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