Lightning Makes It a Nice Night for Mighty Ducks


Down in the dumps and feeling blue? Bounces not going your way? Can’t score enough goals? Can’t make a trade to bolster your ranks?

Take heart, you Mighty Ducks. There’s nothing like 60 minutes against the Tampa Bay Lightning to brighten your day.

The Ducks took full advantage of all the NHL’s worst team had to offer and ended a four-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory Saturday before 14,221 at the Ice Palace.


Mark Janssens, Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin and Joe Sacco scored the Ducks’ goals, the most they’ve had since a 5-5 tie Dec. 27 against the St. Louis Blues. Goalie Guy Hebert stopped 24 of 25 shots as the Ducks ended an eight-game winless streak on the road (0-6-2).

But perhaps the most interesting development Saturday was not on the ice, but in the press box.

Coach Pierre Page shuffled his lineup like never before this season, deciding veterans Bobby Dollas, Warren Rychel and Kevin Todd should sit this one out.

Rookie Mike Crowley took Dollas’ spot on defense, enforcer Brent Severyn played in Rychel’s spot and rookie center Matt Cullen filled in for Todd.

Page indicated Rychel and Todd would probably be back in the lineup today against the Florida Panthers. He was less certain about Dollas, scratched for what is believed to be the first time in his five seasons as a Duck.

“We’re trying to get more juice out of everybody,” said Page, who denied a deal for the players was in the works. “There is no deal for Todd.”


Well, actually there was one nearly completed several weeks ago. The Ducks were prepared to send Todd to Tampa Bay in exchange for a minor-league prospect. But the deal fell through at the last minute.

The Ducks then re-signed Kariya to a two-year, $14-million contract Dec. 11 and several NHL sources said they have not come close to making a deal since then. Reluctance by the Walt Disney Co. to take on additional high salaries apparently has held up several potential deals.

“If you phone Jack [Ferreira, Duck general manager], he’ll tell you he’s got nothing going on,” Page said. Ferreira was at home in Orange County and not immediately available for comment Saturday.

Page said he can’t rely on trades to upgrade the Ducks. Change is going to have to come from within.

“Salaries are so high,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, everybody is trying to get their payroll in line. You might be trying to pick up a guy who’s struggling and making $1.5 million. That’s an awfully big risk. You better be sure about the player.”

Saturday’s lineup certainly looked as if the Ducks had made a rather hefty trade. Page went with two rookie defensemen and a third who is in only his second season.


But Crowley and Pavel Trnka fared well as a defense pairing. Trnka also assisted on Sacco’s goal. Salei played better than in recent games, particularly in the St. Louis game. His giveaway late in that game led to the game-tying goal.

“I thought they did a good job tonight,” Hebert said of the inexperienced defensemen. “I didn’t see any glaring mistakes.”

And if there were, Hebert made up for them by stopping the limited offense the last-place Lightning (9-24-8) produced.

The Ducks fired 37 shots at rookie goalies Derek Wilkinson, who gave up two first-period goals, and Zac Bierk, who gave up two in the third period.

Janssens’ goal, his second in as many games and only his third this season, was reviewed the video goal judge. David Karpa’s skate appeared to be in the crease as Janssens slammed home a rebound during a scramble at the mouth of the goal.

But the goal was upheld and the Ducks had a 1-0 lead at 15:28 of the first period. Kariya then sent a knuckling wrist shot over Wilkinson’s left shoulder 37 seconds later for a 2-0 lead.


“The first goal wasn’t a goal,” Tampa Bay Coach Jacques Demers said. “We got upset. We shouldn’t have lost our cool. Anaheim got a good lead. They played it smart, and to beat Hebert you can’t take long shots like that.”

Most of the Lightning shots came from the perimeter and Hebert handled them easily. A mix-up in the neutral zone led to the only Tampa Bay goal. Paul Ysebaert stole the puck from Janssens, then moved in alone to score when no one picked him up.

It was the only serious gaffe the Ducks made Saturday.

“If we put together a little streak here, I think you’ll see our confidence and morale go sky high,” Hebert said. “I like what I see. I hope the coaches think we’re heading in the right direction.”