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COMEBACK THWARTED DUCKS RALLY TO TIE SCORE, BUT SHARKS NOTCH POWER-PLAY GOAL SAN JOSE 4, DUCKS 3.

Byline: Greg Christensen Staff Writer

SAN JOSE - Ruslan Salei's posture spoke volumes.

He stood at the Mighty Ducks bench bent over in agony after skating from the penalty box following the San Jose Sharks scoring what would turn out to be in the winning goal in San Jose's 4-3 victory while the Anaheim defenseman was in the penalty box.

Marco Sturm's deflection that bounced off Guy Hebert's stick, over the goalie's head and into the net at 11:54 of the third period spoiled a valiant comeback by the Ducks before 17,483 at San Jose Arena on Saturday.

For the third consecutive game Anaheim had battled back from a second- period deficit and looked as if it was on the verge of salvaging at least a point or possibly stealing two in the crucial battle between the Pacific Division rivals.

After falling behind 3-1 in the second period, Paul Kariya struck twice in less than two minutes to tie a game that the Sharks appeared to have complete control of earlier in the period.

But just 36 seconds after Kariya's second goal, Salei took a needless interference penalty.

And it cost the Ducks a chance to pass the Kings in the standings and move within three points of the Sharks. Instead, they fell seven points behind San Jose and remain 10th in the Western Conference standings.

After breaking out of goal-scoring slump with a game-tying goal against Calgary on Friday, Teemu Selanne got the Ducks off to a flying start Saturday when he scored 20 seconds into the first period. Selanne unloaded a slap shot from the top of the right circle that appeared to deflect off San Jose defenseman Mike Rathje's stick and over the glove of goalie Steve Shields.

Selanne's 18th goal of the season was the third fastest ever scored by the Ducks at the beginning of a game. Kariya scored eight seconds into a game in Colorado on March 9, 1997.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo: San Jose goalie Steve Shields, right, gave up three goals to the Mighty Ducks on Saturday, but his offense picked him up to earn the win and stay comfortably ahead of the Ducks in the playoff hunt.

Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Box: NHL AT A GLANCE/SHARKS 4, DUCKS 3
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 23, 2000
Words:381
Previous Article:STILL SLUMPING LAKERS CAN'T HOLD ON AGAINST TOUGH BLAZERS LEFT UP TO BENCH, LAST SHOT HITS ONLY AIR PORTLAND 95, LAKERS 91.
Next Article:DUCKS NOTEBOOK; RUCCHIN MAKES SURPRISE RETURN TO LINEUP.


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