ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ The Anaheim Mighty Ducks looked at the Carolina
Hurricanes as a blueprint for getting to the Stanley Cup finals. Now they seem
to be following their pattern in the other direction.
Samuel Pahlsson got the go-ahead goal with 4:23 left in the third period and
Vaclav Prospal scored for the ninth time in 10 games as Anaheim rallied for a
3-2 victory over Carolina on Wednesday night.
The Ducks staggered to the All-Star break 13th in the Western Conference
with a 17-23-8-7 record after coming within one victory of winning the Cup last
But now, they appear to be heading toward the same fate as the Hurricanes,
who were 17-25-6-5 at the All-Star break the season after going to the finals
and missed the playoffs.
``Last season was a long one and you don't get a lot of time to regroup
before the next season is upon you, and then teams are gunning for you. So it's
tough to repeat,'' Ducks captain Steve Rucchin said.
``But at the same time, we're not playing anywhere near the way we did last
year and the way we're capable of. So it's frustrating. Some nights we have it
and other nights we don't _ and you can't have that.''
Anaheim general manager Bryan Murray couldn't help but notice the parallels
between themselves and the Hurricanes _ and the aftermath of their respective
trips to the finals.
``A lot of the same things that happened to them happened to us _ injuries,
goaltending issues _ we got behind the 8-ball for a while and couldn't get it
going,'' Murray said. ``I actually looked at them as an example of a team that
we didn't want to be like after our run, because they had a big hangover from
the year before.''
Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes, who joined the Hurricanes a month before their
2002 playoff run, expects Anaheim to snap out of its first-half funk _
especially after facing 43 shots.
``Bryan Murray knows how to build good teams, and he's done that here,''
Weekes said. ``They're underachieving a little, but they have the talent. They
are a hungry team with a lot of guys who don't quit, and they showed that
Defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski had a goal and an assist, Jason Krog had two
assists and Martin Gerber made 22 saves for the Ducks.
Josef Vasicek had a power-play goal and Erik Cole scored short-handed for
the Hurricanes, 9-14-2 since Peter Laviolette replaced Paul Maurice as coach on
Anaheim tied it for the second time at 10:23 of the second period, as
Vishnevski jumped into the play and converted Krog's centering pass in the low
slot after Lance Ward knocked Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley off the puck
behind the net. It was Vishnevski's career-high fourth goal and his eighth in
309 NHL games.
Pahlsson converted his own rebound at the edge of the crease after Krog set
up his backhander in the low slot.
``Giving one up that late really hurt,'' Weekes said. ``They were really
generating chances tonight. They had at least three or four right before they
got the game-winner.''
Vasicek opened the scoring at 4:10 of the first period, ending Carolina's
0-for-18 drought on the power play against Anaheim. Ducks forward Casey
Hankinson was serving a holding-the-stick penalty when Vasicek redirected Sean
Hill's 45-foot wrist shot from the slot over Gerber's glove for his 15th goal.
Prospal pulled the Ducks even with six seconds left on a two-man advantage,
converting a thread-the-needle pass through the crease from Petr Sykora for his
15th goal after staggered penalties against Vasicek for elbowing and Hill for
delay of game. The Ducks are 11-for-32 on the power play over their last seven
games, after going 0-for-25 in their previous eight contests.
Hill was still serving his penalty when teammate Rod Brind'Amour broke out
of the Anaheim zone with the puck and set up Cole's fourth career short-handed