Kariya's Slump Ends at Opportune Time

Times Staff Writer

This was significant, at least in the Mighty Ducks' big picture.

Paul Kariya drifted in front of the net and managed to get enough of his stick on the puck to redirect it past Blackhawk goalie Jocelyn Thibault on Wednesday.

It was Kariya's 300th goal and ended his goalless streak at 10 games, two shy of his career long.

It also ended the Ducks' futility on special teams, giving them their first power-play goal in 32 chances.

But mainly this was about the Ducks finding their footing. Kariya's goal tied the score midway through the third period and Samuel Pahlsson flicked in the game-winner with 3:33 left to give the Ducks a 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks in front of an announced 12,236 at the United Center.

"It was one of those luck goals that went off my stick," Kariya said.

"But it was a good two points. We had the lead, lost it, got it back. We played lackadaisical all night, but we got some timely scoring."

The victory allowed the Ducks to remain tied with Minnesota for sixth place in the Western Conference with 85 points -- tying the franchise record -- and put them 14 points ahead of ninth-place Phoenix.

The Ducks have rallied in the third period three times in their last four games, getting two victories and a tie.

"You'd rather not be behind to start the third period," Coach Mike Babcock said. "But when you expect to win, you find a way to win."

Something that can come in handy down the line.

Said Pahlsson: "That gives us great confidence with the playoffs coming."

There were sideshows to the big finish.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was brilliant, stopping 39 shots en route to tying Guy Hebert's single-season record with his 31st victory. Petr Sykora became only the third Duck to score 30 goals in a season with his second-period goal. The Ducks tied the franchise record with their 36th victory and swept the Blackhawks in a season series for the first time

But Kariya's first goal since Feb. 26th seemed a little more important.

"As an offensive player, obviously you want to produce," said Kariya, who had seven assists during the drought.

"I have been getting some chances, some point-blank ones. If I hadn't been getting the chances, then I would be concerned."

Chances were mostly what the Ducks have squandered with a power play that has had Enron-type juice the last month. They had two goals in 66 chances before Wednesday's game. Babcock shuffled his power-play units, including moving Adam Oates off the No. 1 power-play unit.

"Earlier this season, the power play was winning games for us and carrying us at times," Kariya said. "Now we've been doing it five-on-five. If we every can get the two together.... "

The Ducks were solid five-on-five, getting goals from Sykora, Pahlsson and Stanislav Chistov, all on plays where they were buzzing the net.

"After a while, I guess they start to figure it out," Babcock said. "When you put the puck on net and go to the net, good things happen."

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