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Mighty Ducks showing 'no quit' in West

3/14/2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Anaheim Mighty Ducks' salary drive
has been more impressive than the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff
drive.

Matt Cullen scored twice in the first period and Jean-Sebastien
Giguere outplayed Jean-Sebastien Aubin in net as the Ducks beat the
fading Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Wednesday night.

"We've become a respectable hockey club in this league," Ducks
coach Bryan Murray said. "I hope there's no quit in this group.
That's the biggest thing for me. I want to see them continue to
play hard."

Ruslan Salei and Steve Rucchin also scored, Mike Leclerc had two
assists and Giguere made 29 saves, helping the Ducks win for the
10th time in 15 games.

"Some of the players are playing better, they've become more
responsible and they understand how we want them to play," said
Murray, who is finishing his first season with Anaheim. "We've
defined some roles for a few people that maybe weren't there
because of my lack of knowledge of what they were capable of."

Stephane Richer and Aleksey Morozov scored for the Penguins, who
are 4-11-1 in their last 16 games.

The loss kept Pittsburgh six points behind the New York Rangers
in the race for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff
berth. Washington, Montreal and Buffalo also are ahead of
Pittsburgh.

"It's going to be a battle. We've got to get things going in
the right direction pretty quick," Penguins general manager Craig
Patrick said after the game. "We haven't been that strong
defensively as a team lately."

Cullen, who played 13 minutes in Sunday's loss to Ottawa without
getting a shot on net, opened the scoring in the first period. He
used Billy Tibbets as a screen and sent a 25-foot wrist shot over
Aubin's stick.

Anaheim's lead lasted just 47 seconds. Robitaille carried the
puck out from behind the net with Dan Bylsma hanging on his back,
then made a blind back-hand pass that Richer converted at the edge
of the crease for his 13th goal.

But Cullen regained the lead for Anaheim with 40 seconds left in
the period, poking his 18th goal under Aubin after the goalie
stopped Leclerc's short back-hander and tried to sit on the
bouncing puck.

"They should have blown the whistle, but they just didn't do
it," Aubin said. "It's funny. Sometimes they blow the whistle so
fast for no reason, and other times they just wait and wait. It
cost us a big goal."

It was the third career two-goal game for Cullen, who helped
fuel a 4-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Oct. 6 with a short-handed goal
and a power-play goal against Johan Hedberg in the previous meeting
between the teams. Cullen also scored twice at Dallas on Jan. 25 in
a 6-1 win.

"I have something to prove after last year," Cullen said. "A
lot of people said I faded at the end. And obviously, when somebody
says something like that, you want to prove them wrong. I've been
trying to attack more, shoot the puck more and be more consistent
in the way I approach every game."

Richer left the game temporarily with an apparent hand injury
after getting slashed by Vitaly Vishnevski less than five minutes
into the third period. Vishnevski wasn't called for that
infraction, but was sent off seconds later for tripping Kris Beech.

The Penguins capitalized as Morozov converted Randy Robitaille's
pass at the right of the crease to trim Anaheim's lead to 4-2. It
was the first time this season the Penguins have scored power-play
goals in four straight games. They are 6-for-21 during that
stretch.

Game notes
This was supposed to be a magic night for Southern
California fans -- with the Ducks scheduled to host Mario Lemieux,
and Michael Jordan's Washington Wizards visiting the Clippers at
Staples Center. But Lemieux and Jordan, both of whom came out of
retirement to resume their careers, were sidelined by injuries.
There were no refunds. ... Lemieux has scored four goals in six
career games against the Ducks, all of them against Mikhail
Shtalenkov between December 1995 and December 1996. ... To get the
Ducks fans riled up for the Penguins' only visit of the season, the
video board at center ice showed a vintage clip from the 1960s
"Batman" movie, featuring Burgess Meredith in his memorable role
as The Penguin. ... Vishnevski, the only Anaheim regular without a
goal this season, hit the post less than a minute into the second
period. He has played 125 games since his last goal, on Oct. 29,
2000. ... The Penguins are 4-16-0 against Western Conference teams.