Ducks Have Wing and a Prayer


At least the Mighty Ducks will always have Phoenix. Through good times and “Brother, can you spare a dime?” tough ones, the Ducks can almost always count on a strong performance against the Coyotes at America West Arena.

Losers of six consecutive and 10 of their last 11, the Ducks dug deep and produced a startling third period Thursday that ranked among their finest 20 minutes of hockey this season.

OK, that’s not saying much. But right wing Teemu Selanne scored three times in the third period and the Ducks proved during a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes that, yes, they do have a pulse after all.


“I think it’s a big relief every time we win because it doesn’t happen very often,” Selanne said after the Ducks ended their longest losing streak of the season by improving to 2-0 in Phoenix.

“This is the kind of effort we need more often.”

Too bad the Ducks can’t schedule the Coyotes more often than the five times they meet this season. After all, the Ducks tied the Coyotes, 1-1, Nov. 1 at the Arrowhead Pond, ended an eight-game winless streak with a 6-2 romp Nov. 18 and gave Phoenix fits in a 4-3 loss Jan. 18 in Anaheim.

Thursday, the Ducks rolled with the punches and--get this--kept their wits as Selanne delivered his 18th, 19th and 20th goals in the pivotal third period.

Phoenix led, 1-0, on Daniel Briere’s power-play goal 6:55 into the second period. Pascal Trepanier countered with a power-play goal for the Ducks at 13:44 of the second period.

Selanne, bursting out of the penalty box after serving a boarding penalty, scored on a breakaway 1:19 into the third period for a 2-1 Duck lead. In recent weeks, a third-period lead was as good as gone for the Ducks. It happened again, but after Claude Lemieux ripped a shot over Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s left shoulder for a 2-2 tie at 3:54, the Ducks refused to fold.

Selanne’s deflection of defenseman Mike Crowley’s shot from the right point gave the Ducks the lead for good, 3-2, at 10:03. In the closing seconds, after Giguere had made some solid saves to preserve the lead, Selanne secured the victory with an empty-net goal.


“We tried to play a sound defensive game,” Selanne said. “We knew we couldn’t get into a scoring race with that team. . . . I thought it was a great team effort. We should play like this every night.”

Paul Kariya’s assist on Selanne’s empty-netter was his first point since suffering a broken right foot Dec. 17. Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky gobbled up ice time, playing a team-high 24 minutes 55 seconds. Giguere made 36 saves, including many from point-blank range in the first and third periods.

By game’s end, a poised group of Ducks looked nothing like the same stumblebums who were blanked, 3-0, Wednesday by the Nashville Predators at the Pond.

Certainly, the Ducks did not play a flawless game Thursday against the Coyotes. But instead of hanging their heads each and every time something went wrong, they rebounded with a smart play. Mistakes were erased by sound play on the next shift.

“The bench was very positive,” Coach Guy Charron said. “There were no heads down tonight. I’d like to see us get into that habit more often. I thought it was a good effort. Our best players rose to the occasion.”

The Coyotes’ best players went invisible for long stretches. Center Jeremy Roenick delivered a first-period hit on Antti-Jussi Niemi that injured the rookie defenseman’s shoulder. But Roenick was seldom an offensive threat.


It also didn’t hurt the Ducks’ cause that captain Keith Tkachuk was sidelined because of a concussion. Or that grinder Shane Doan and defenseman Jyrki Lumme also were injured and did not play. The Ducks, who were again without five of their top players, were in a joyous mood going into this weekend’s All-Star break.

“I still think after the break will be a good time for us,” Selanne said. “We’ll be able to reload our batteries and start from a clean table. We’re going to get a lot of people back soon from the injury list. We’ve been waiting for them for a long time.

“Hopefully, this is a turning point for us.”