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Mighty Ducks Can’t Get a Nibble Against Sharks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks are no longer available for tormenting to the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks completed a six-game season sweep of the Ducks with a physical 5-2 victory Thursday before 17,483 at San Jose Arena.

San Jose defenseman Al Iafrate knocked Teemu Selanne out of the game with a rough check against the boards late in the first period. Selanne suffered a pulled muscle, according to a team spokesman.

Selanne missed Finland’s bronze-medal victory at the Nagano Olympics and Anaheim’s first five games after the break because of a lower abdominal strain.

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Selanne said after scoring his NHL-leading and franchise-record 52nd goal in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers that the injury was still troubling him.

His status for Monday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche was not immediately known. He would dearly love to win the league goal-scoring title outright for the first time in his career.

But at this point, there’s little else to play for in the season’s final four games. Right from the start Thursday, it was evident the Sharks and Ducks had different agendas.

The Sharks are battling for a Western Conference playoff spot. The Ducks are in last place in the conference and eliminated from the playoffs. The Sharks hit everyone in a Duck uniform. The Ducks were a step slow and therefore easy targets.

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Murray Craven’s goal only 1:08 into the game provided the Sharks with the start they needed.

Duck rookie Josef Marha hit a shot off the goalpost moments later, and that should have been an indication it wouldn’t be the Ducks’ night. Of course, there have too many nights like Thursday--particularly against San Jose.

That’s not to say the Ducks went down without a fight. They spent much of the first period trying to separate Shark defenseman Bryan Marchment from his senses.

Marchment, whose reputation tends to run the gamut from cheap to dirty, appeared to hit Tomas Sandstrom with a shot to the knee with the game almost four minutes old.

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Sandstrom retaliated with a slashing penalty and Joe Murphy followed with the Sharks’ second goal at 4:57.

The Ducks kept a sharp lookout for Marchment, who has received two suspensions this season for knee-on-knee hits.

When he elbowed defenseman Pavel Trnka in the head, tough guy Jeremy Stevenson bloodied Marchment during a one-sided fight at 12:29.

“They have one player who wants to end someone’s career every time he hits someone,” Duck Coach Pierre Page said of Marchment. “If he’s playing physical, great. If he goes beyond that, you have to do something about it.”

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Iafrate then leveled Selanne with a hard check against the glass behind the Shark net at 15:43. Television replays indicated it was not in the same category as the March 13 hit on Selanne by Dallas defenseman Craig Ludwig that ignited three brawls.

Selanne took a long, slow skate around the rink, then headed for the dressing room.

Iafrate seemed willing to take on all comers. Although there was no fight, he stood in front of the Duck bench at one point and dared anyone to drop the gloves.

Add goaltender Mike Vernon into the mix, and the Ducks had no shortage of Sharks frustrating them. Vernon, who led the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup last season, blanked the Ducks on 17 shots through two periods.

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He also picked up a minor for slashing Brent Severyn in the final minute of the the second period.

Vernon gave way to Kelly Hrudey to start the third period and the Ducks finally got back in the game.

Marha ended the shutout by racing past the Shark defense to score his second goal in as many nights. Ted Drury scored the Ducks’ second goal at 14:52, making the Sharks sweat a bit down the stretch.

But John MacLean scored for the Sharks moments later on a breakaway against Tom Askey, who replaced Mikhail Shtalenkov to start the third period.

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