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Tkachuk Gives Ducks a Touch of the Blues

Times Staff Writer

The name of Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis’ chaos-causing forward, was uttered by a number of Mighty Duck players Tuesday night. Few included warm regards.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere was frustrated because he guessed wrong and got beat low by Tkachuk 4 minutes 29 seconds into overtime. That shot gave the Blues a 2-1 victory in front of an announced 15,191 at the Savvis Center.

Defenseman Kurt Sauer was perplexed, wondering how -- and why -- Tkachuk caught him below the right eye in the third period. That shot added one more stitch to an already sewn-up wound.

Forward Lance Ward was angry, steaming even, about being speared by Tkachuk in the third period, which resulted in a double minor.

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All of which left Tkachuk as the No. 1 topic after a promising Duck outing. They weathered a brutal first period, during which Giguere stopped 19 shots and countless elbows. They left with a point and a sunnier disposition -- except about Tkachuk.

Tkachuk picked up a Sergei Fedorov turnover and skated into the Duck zone before letting loose a shot from the left faceoff circle. Game over.

“Keith is always around the action,” said Duck defenseman Keith Carney, who played with Tkachuk in Phoenix.”

And as a Lady Byng candidate for most gentlemanly conduct?

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“No one is going to confuse him for that for sure.”

With the exception of some hard feelings toward that non-Lady Byng candidate, the Ducks walked away from the last game of a five-game trip whistling a somewhat happier tune. They lost their third consecutive game but ended the trip 2-2-0-1.

“You could say we got beat, but we got a point,” Coach Mike Babcock said. “We went .500 on the road this trip. From a team that started [the season] 0-4, things have gotten a lot better.”

So has Giguere, at least for one night. In the first period, the Blues launched shot after shot, crashed the net and even barreled him over. Giguere stood his ground.

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“They are a team you know is going to come at you, especially in their building,” Giguere said. “There were a lot of elbows and cross-checks on me in the crease.”

Sandis Ozolinsh’s rocket from the blue line gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead 1:05 into the second period. Giguere, who stopped 30 of 32 shots, made that last until late in the third period. Doug Weight spun and fired a rebound that went off Giguere’s left pad to tie the score 14:41 into the third period.

Tkachuk took things from there. He first caught Sauer with his stick.

“It looked like it was an accident, but I wonder,” Sauer said. “He made it look real good in front of the ref.”

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Tkachuk didn’t disguise his intentions later in the period. Ward back-checked him to the ice and Tkachuk responded by jabbing Ward in the stomach.

“I guess he didn’t like that I caught him and back-checked him,” an angry Ward said. “That was absolutely a dirty play. I absolutely know we play them again on [Nov.] 16th.

“He shoved Jiggy in the first period, so I punched him. Then he spears me?”

Tkachuk dodged questions about the incident, other than to say, “I was praying the guys would kill off that penalty.”

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Tkachuk then left another lasting impression, beating Giguere for the game-winner.

“We definitely can take some positives out of this game,” Carney said. “We did a lot of the little things that we haven’t been doing consistently. We still have to go harder and play with more intensity.”


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