MONTREAL – Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s 47 saves in front of family and friends in his hometown was the main reason his Anaheim Ducks won Saturday night, but the goalie saw a breakout performance by the team’s top line as being more important.
Corey Perry had a goal and two assists while Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz had a goal and assist each as the Ducks handed the Montreal Canadiens their first regulation time loss of the season in a 6-4 victory Saturday.
The big line had a combined two assists in the Ducks (4-5-0) first six games but now have four goals and eight assists between them in the past three games.
“They’re young guys and they were going through something that’s very difficult, something they’ve never really been through before as young players, but I think they’re going to be better players because of that,” said Giguere, who rented a suite at the Bell Centre to accommodate all the ticket requests. “We’re expecting a lot from them and there’s a lot of pressure on their shoulders, but deservingly so. They’re big players, they can do everything out there and they showed that tonight.”
Kent Huskins, Travis Moen and Teemu Selanne also scored for the Ducks, who won their third straight and fourth in five games after coming out of the gate with a four-game losing streak.
Alex Tanguay scored twice while Saku Koivu and Tom Kostopoulos also scored for the Canadiens (5-1-1), who saw their five-game winning streak stopped at five games in front of another Bell Centre sellout of 21,273.
Montreal’s 51 shots marked the first time the Canadiens registered at least 50 in a game since April 1, 1996.
“Any time you get 50 shots, you’re doing some good things,” said Habs coach Guy Carbonneau. “But we gave them too many 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 breaks, and that’s not us. I know we want to play an offensive kind of game, but we never give that many odd-man rushes in a game.”
Giguere continued his solid play of late that has triggered Anaheim’s streak. After allowing 13 goals in his first three starts, he’s given up only eight goals on 150 shots in his last four games for a save percentage of .947.
“We were fortunate that our goaltender made enough stops at critical times and our power play came through for us,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
With Carey Price recovering from a virus the Canadiens started backup Jaroslav Halak, but he didn’t get past the second period after surrendering four goals on 12 shots. Price allowed two goals on 13 shots after coming in at 4:40 of the second period.
Halak entered the game having allowed only two goals on 61 shots in two starts this season, but Carbonneau refused to blame the goaltending for the loss.
“That would be the easiest route to take,” he said. “I can’t say they were sharp because I don’t think they were. But we had mistakes from the forwards and defencemen that led to odd-man rushes. In the first six games we had the saves to cover up for the mistakes, but tonight we didn’t.”
Canadiens winger Chirstopher Higgins played his first game of the season after recovering from an injured groin and earned an assist on Koivu’s goal, though his turnover led to Getzlaf’s goal in the first.
“We made some risky plays and gave up some odd man rushes,” Higgins said, acknowledging his mistake. “You learn. It’s still early in the season and we can definitely learn from the tape of this game.”
With the teams tied 2-2 after one period, Kostopoulos gave Montreal the lead 3-2 at 1:34 of the first when he batted a rebound out of the air and in for his first of the year.
But Anaheim charged back to score two goals in two minutes and chase Halak, with Perry burying his first of the year at 2:40 on a power play and Kunitz also notching his first at 4:40 off a nifty feed from Scott Niedermayer to make it 4-3 Ducks.
The Ducks scored shorthanded at 16:39 when Moen fended off Andrei Markov to chase down a loose puck and flipped a backhand over Price’s glove hand to make it 5-3.
Selanne made it 6-3 with a power-play goal at 5:40 of the third when he buried a rebound of a Chris Pronger slapshot, but Tanguay made it 6-4 at 13:45 with his team-leading fifth of the season.
Montreal gave up the first goal for the first time this season, and it came on Anaheim’s first shot.
Enforcer George Parros skated up the right wing and found Huskins in the slot, who put a shot inside the far post for his second of the year at 2:50.
Less than three minutes later Perry found Getzlaf on a 2-on-1 break in front for his second in as many games after starting the season without a goal in his first six contests.
Montreal tied it by the end of the first thanks to the power play, with Tanguay scoring on a backdoor pass through Niedermayer’s legs from Alex Kovalev at 11:40. Koivu then scored his fourth on a great pass from Higgins at 16:23, just as a penalty to Todd Marchant was expiring.
Notes: Habs D Ryan O’Byrne and winger Mathieu Dandenault were healthy scratches. Andrei Kostitsyn is still recovering from the huge hit he took from Phoenix D Kurt Sauer last Saturday night, though he skated with his teammates for the first time since the hit Saturday morning … Ducks new acquisition Bret Hedican and winger Brad May were scratched.