Ducks Have That Sinking Feeling


The Mighty Ducks spent Wednesday night making the Calgary Flames look like Stanley Cup champions, left wing Marty McInnis look like the Hart Trophy winner, goaltender Rick Tabaracci look like . . .

You get the idea.

Just when it seems it can’t get any worse, the Ducks plunge to new depths. Their 5-2 loss the Flames before 16,758 early-departing spectators at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim was simply their latest deep-sea adventure.

One night after squandering a two-goal lead in a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Ducks lacked the required punch to subdue one of the NHL’s weakest teams.


The Ducks have three games left before the 17-day Olympic break to get their game straightened out. They certainly didn’t have anything going for them against the pumped-up Flames on Wednesday.

“I asked the players what the difference is between last year and this year,” Coach Pierre Page said. “They said there’s no difference. Guy [Hebert] stands on his head [in goal] and Paul [Kariya] scores some goals and we win. If not, we lose.”

The Duck players held a 20-minute postgame meeting in yet another attempt to get back on course toward a playoff berth.

“The last 24 hours haven’t been our brightest hours,” winger Warren Rychel said. “We took a couple of steps forward [in going 2-0-1 after the All-Star break], but then we’ve taken a couple of steps backward. Some guys said a few things. Basically, that’s all I’m going to say about the meeting.

“As for the game, they were a lot hungrier than we were. We have to blame ourselves. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We have to come out of this real quick.”

McInnis had two goals and one assist and Tabaracci, making his first start since Jan. 9, stopped 26 of 28 shots. Todd Simpson, German Titov and Derek Morris also scored for the Flames.


Sean Pronger and Scott Young scored for the Ducks, who appeared out of sync right from the start against a team they had defeated, 5-1, on Dec. 22 at the Pond.

At the end, the Ducks were forced to play without Paul Kariya, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing Calgary’s Ed Ward midway through the third period.

The major and game misconduct were Kariya’s first in the NHL and probably mean the end of his two-year hold on the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play.

Moreover, it was the Ducks’ second game misconduct in as many games, one sure sign of their mounting frustration as they slip farther from playoff contention.

Defenseman Dmitri Mironov received 10-minute, game and gross misconduct penalties after a confrontation with referee Mark Faucette in the San Jose game. Mironov cursed at Faucette and slammed his stick against the boards in anger.

So desperate was Page to find a way to jump-start the sagging Ducks that he split up the Kariya-Steve Rucchin-Teemu Selanne line to start the second period.


He moved enforcer Brent Severyn up from the fourth line to play with Kariya and Rucchin. Selanne played with Sean Pronger and Matt Cullen.

Funny thing. The moves worked, for a while at least.

Severyn energized the Ducks as much as anyone other than Kariya or Selanne could. He fought Rocky Thompson to a first-period draw, raced past the Duck bench to give his teammates a quick, “Let’s go, boys,” then headed to the penalty box.

The Pronger-Cullen-Selanne line produced a second-period goal that seemed to give the Ducks some brief momentum. Cullen set up Pronger’s first goal since Oct. 30 against the Boston Bruins with a cross-ice pass.

“I liked the way we started the second period,” Page said, searching for something positive from Wednesday’s debacle.

Pronger’s goal cut Calgary’s lead to 2-1 at 7:15 of the second period. But the Flames gained control again on Simpson’s goal that gave them a 3-1 advantage at 17:45 of the second.

McInnis, who went into the game trailing NHL-leading scorer Jaromir Jagr of Pittsburgh by 35 points, assisted on Simpson’s goal. McInnis scored Calgary’s first two goals.