Anaheim, Carolina victims of similar hangovers

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

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 June.

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

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 tonight."

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 Dec. 15.

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

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 goal.

Game notes
Anaheim traded D Todd Simpson to the Ottawa Senators for LW
Petr Schastlivy. The deal was announced during the first period.
... Hill, who recorded the first regular-season goal in the history
of the Anaheim franchise, has not scored in 13 career games against
the Ducks.