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Predators Stun Mighty Ducks


Patrick Kjellberg is making the Nashville Predators very happy they gave him a second chance in the NHL.

Kjellberg, whose only previous NHL experience was seven games and no points with Montreal in 1992-93, scored twice and Mike Dunham earned his career-high ninth win Friday night as the Predators beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 3-1.

"It was fun," Kjellberg said. "It's a challenge to come in with a new team, with all the expectations that are surrounding that."

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  • In the five years since his brief stint with the Canadiens, Kjellberg played in the Swedish Elite League and stopped even thinking about a comeback to the NHL.

    "I pretty much took it out of mind," he said. "But things started to go well, and there was some interest over here. So I decided to try it again."

    Kjellberg got Nashville off to a rare hot start with his fourth goal in the opening period, and added an insurance goal in the third.

    After killing off four straight early Mighty Ducks power plays -- including a 1:55 two-man advantage -- Kjellberg lifted the rebound of Darren Turcotte's shot over Ducks goalie Dominic Roussel to put the Predators ahead at 17:39.

    "Our power-play guys lost the game for us," Anaheim coach Craig Hartsburg said.

    That snapped a string of seven consecutive games in which Nashville had given up the first goal. The surprising Predators, the NHL's latest expansion team, moved within two points of second-place St. Louis in the Central Division.

    "They came over as young players, and they didn't have the success that maybe they thought they woul," Nashvile coach Barry Trotz said of Kjellberg and other Predators like Ville Peltonen. "They went back to Europe, and they developed as hockey players."

    Sebastien Bordeleau's slap shot from the left circle beat Roussel 22 seconds into the second period, and Nashville led 2-0. After Anaheim's Paul Kariya scored in the second period to make it 2-1, Kjellberg scored from the slot on the power play 3:17 into the third.

    Kariya extended his league-high points streak to 11 games with hispower-play goal. His wrist shot from the high slot went by Dunham's stick, and trimmed Nashville's lead to 2-1.

    The goal, Kariya's 13th in 21 games, tied him with Philadelphia's Eric Lindros for the NHL scoring lead with 29 points.

    "Nashville competed as a team, they got their noses dirty and they deserved to win," Hartsburg said.

    Dunham stopped Teemu Selanne on a 2-on-1 with Kariya later in the second period.

    "We just go out and work hard," Dunham said. "We're not going to outgun teams."

    Roussel was seeking his first NHL win since March 22, 1996. Roussel, who played with the Canadian national team last year and in the minors two seasons ago, was traded by Nashville to Anaheim at the end of training camp.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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