Now that they’re all back, there are no excuses.
Andy McDonald scored twice and Teemu Selanne had a goal and an assist, leading the Ducks to a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Pronger returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a broken left foot, and Beauchemin played for the first time since Dec. 26 after being sidelined for 11 games with a lacerated spleen.
“We all know that injuries are part of this game, but it’s not an excuse whether we’re going to win or lose. It’s about 20 guys working hard,” Giguere said. “The fact that the three of us were injured had nothing to do with us losing some games. It had everything to do with guys not bearing down in our zone and not doing the little things we were doing at the beginning of the season.”
Playing for the first time since Jan. 19 because of the all-star break, the rested and replenished Ducks displayed the form that resulted in their 25-3-6 start. The victory was only their third in 12 games and snapped a four-game losing streak.
Dustin Penner also scored and Giguere made 30 saves after missing 11 games with a strained groin. The 2003 playoff MVP, who was leading the NHL with 23 wins when he was injured Dec. 26 at San Jose, gave up his only goal on a penalty shot by Jere Lehtinen with 12:14 remaining.
“It was frustrating being out, but you can’t put your emotion on how the team is going because that’s putting your energy in the wrong place,” said Giguere, 12-2-0 in his last 14 starts. “There’s nothing you can do at that point except come back healthy and strong for yourself.”
Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer, who leads all defencemen with 44 points, sat out for the first time this season because of a stress fracture in his right foot. It was only the third game that the 2004 Norris Trophy winner has missed since the start of the 2002-03 campaign.
“Injuries are tough, especially when you’ve been hit the way we’ve been hit and having that number of guys all go down at the same time,” McDonald said. “It’ll be great once we get Scotty back. You can’t say enough good things about him and what he can do for our club – but we still had to come out today and play our best hockey.”
Dallas began a four-game road trip with its third straight loss to the Ducks, who currently hold the top spot in the Pacific Division and are 10 points ahead of the third-place Stars – who won the division title last season.
“We needed to come out jumping,” Giguere said. “That was a key for us, and probably a key for me because I didn’t feel so sharp in the first period and my legs felt a little bit heavy. So it was nice to see the guys coming our with energy and a little bit of passion.”
McDonald and Penner scored 26 seconds apart midway through the first period against Marty Turco. At that point, Dallas coach Dave Tippett burned the team’s only timeout in an attempt to slow down Anaheim’s momentum. But Giguere stopped the first 23 shots he faced and didn’t crack until Lehtinen scored his 15th goal. The penalty shot was awarded after Beauchemin threw his stick at Lehtinen on a breakaway.
But Anaheim responded with two goals 63 seconds apart to increase the margin to 4-1. Selanne ended the scoring with his 31st during a power play with 9:43 remaining while Stephane Robidas was off for hooking.
The Ducks have scored 13 goals in its last three games against Turco, who has lost his last two starts after breaking Ed Belfour’s franchise record for career wins on Jan. 20.
“You’re not going to get the outcome you want unless you get better goaltending, or find a way to beat their goaltender as many times,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “We didn’t create enough offence and we didn’t get enough saves.”
Notes: Hall of Fame goalie Gump Worsley, who died Friday at age 77, finished his 21-year playing career with the Stars franchise when it was based in Minnesota. He played 107 regular-season games with the North Stars, going 39-37-24 with a 2.62 goals-against average and three shutouts – and to this day remains the oldest player to appear in a game with the team. When he played his final game on April 2, 1974, he was 44 years, 10 months and 19 days old. His 43rd and last shutout came against the club he broke in with, the New York Rangers, on March 26, 1972, when he made 29 saves and thwarted six power plays in a 5-0 victory at Madison Square Garden.