Advertisement

Ducks Lose Power Against Weaklings

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Six rookies in the lineup. Continued lackluster play by healthy veterans. Consecutive losses to last-place teams.

Is this any way to secure a playoff berth?

No, as the Mighty Ducks proved in a dreary, 4-2 loss to Toronto on Wednesday in front of 15,726 at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Instead of beating up on weaker teams, the Ducks have foundered in the first two games of their four-game tour of North America. They also managed to pump some life into two teams attempting to salvage a bit of pride by rejoining the playoff race.

Advertisement

Tuesday, the Ducks let a two-goal lead slip away en route to a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders, last in the Atlantic Division.

Wednesday, they tried a new approach: trying to scramble back from a two-goal deficit against the Maple Leafs, last in the Central Division.

Saturday, they play Edmonton, the only opponent on the trip with a .500 record and in a playoff position.

At the moment, it looks like the biggest mismatch.

Advertisement

The trip ends Sunday at Calgary, a team the Ducks routed, 7-0, on Dec. 20 at the Pond of Anaheim.

“Every team goes through a stretch like this once a year,” veteran enforcer Ken Baumgartner said. “It just tests the depth of an organization.”

The Ducks have raided the talent pool at their minor-league affiliate at Baltimore in an effort to shore up their lineup. Recent injuries have sidelined forwards Ted Drury, Roman Oksiuta and Kevin Todd and defenseman David Karpa.

Instead of those veterans, Coach Ron Wilson was forced to rely on a makeshift lineup anchored, as always, by all-star wingers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.

But even Kariya and Selanne couldn’t bail out the Ducks on this night. Each scored a goal, but the Ducks still lost. They had been 6-0 this season and 9-0 since Selanne was acquired from Winnipeg last Feb. 7 when each had a goal.

Toronto countered with Mats Sundin’s two goals and one assist and Doug Gilmour’s three assists to win for only the third time in the past 12 games.

“At times we looked very tired and at other times we looked very inexperienced out there,” Duck Coach Ron Wilson.

Rookies Darren Van Impe, Peter LeBoutillier, Sean Pronger, Craig Reichert, Dan Trebil and Nikolai Tsulygin logged significant ice time because Wilson had run out of options.

Advertisement

The Ducks trailed, 1-0, only 2:44 into the game then rallied to tie on Kariya’s 12th goal in the past 12 games at the 1:36 mark of the second period.

Van Impe set up the goal with a pass from the right wing to a hard-charging Kariya, who simply redirected the puck past goaltender Felix Potvin.

Toronto built a 3-1 lead on goals by Mathieu Schneider and Sundin. But Selanne scored with 39 seconds left in the second period to cut the lead to 3-2.

Nothing clicked for the Ducks in the third period and Sundin sealed the victory with his 31st goal of the season.

Mighty Duck Notes

Defenseman David Karpa, who suffered a broken bone in his right hand, was put on the injured reserve list. He is expected to be sidelined up to three weeks. Rookie defenseman Dan Trebil was recalled from Baltimore of the American Hockey League and made his NHL debut.


Advertisement