Upon Further Deflection, Ducks Take Tie

Times Staff Writer

With five minutes remaining in the third period against Calgary on Sunday, the Mighty Ducks had every reason to think that it just wasn't their night.

Playing their fourth game in five nights, the tired Ducks trailed the Flames by two goals and the few good scoring opportunities they'd had, including a Paul Kariya penalty shot in the third period, had come up empty.

But as they have all season, the Ducks battled back and, with two late goals by Petr Sykora, rallied for a 2-2 tie in front of an announced crowd of 16,726 at the Arrowhead Pond.

"All you can do is try and put it out of your mind and keep playing," Sykora said of the fatigue. "You know that as long as you keep your legs moving and keep putting the puck on net, the bounces are going to come. That's how we played tonight. We kept on plugging until finally the puck went in for us."

Neither of Sykora's goals came on clean shots.

He received credit for the first when Calgary goaltender Jamie McLennan left a rebound in the crease and the Flames' Martin Gelinas knocked the puck into the net at 15:55.

Then, with 31 seconds remaining, Sykora tried a cross-ice pass that appeared to deflect off the stick of Calgary's Craig Conroy and into the net, sending the game into overtime.

"Four in five [nights] is not the easiest thing, but we got the point and that's the important thing," said Kariya, who played 19 minutes 31 seconds and finished with seven shots on goal, including six in the third period.

"We'll get to rest now."

When the NHL released this season's schedule last summer, the Ducks did not have to squeeze so many games in so few days. But that changed when an agreement was reached to move a March 26 game against San Jose to last Thursday to allow an NCAA men's basketball tournament practice day at the Pond.

The Ducks paid the price for that switch this week.

"We all knew that this was a tough stretch for us, but mentally we had to be strong," said defenseman Keith Carney, who played 25:13 Sunday, giving him 93 minutes 58 seconds in the four-game span. "You have to keep telling yourself that you feel good."

The Flames, who lost at San Jose on Saturday and were playing their third game in four nights, jumped all over the Ducks in the opening period. But despite Calgary's 14-6 advantage in shots on goal, the game was scoreless at the first intermission.

In the second period, the Flames took advantage of Anaheim penalties to score two power-play goals against the NHL's best penalty-killing unit.

Winger Jarome Iginla put Calgary ahead, 1-0, on a rebound goal from outside the right post at 4:08. The Flames took a 2-0 lead at 8:42 when defenseman Toni Lydman scored.

That set the stage for Sykora's third-period heroics.

"This was a tie that feels like a loss," Iginla said of the Flames' third-period collapse. "They turned it up and we began to sit back and let them take it to us."

With the tie, the Ducks have 83 points, one more than Minnesota for sixth place in the Western Conference.

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