Giguere began training camp on equal terms with playoff standout Ilya Bryzgalov after four straight seasons as the Ducks’ No. 1 goalie. It has led to a quick start. Giguere stopped 34 shots for his 22nd career shutout in a 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. Chris Kunitz scored two power-play goals for the Ducks, whose 3-0 start is the best in franchise history.
Giguere won the Conn Smyth Trophy as MVP of the 2003 playoffs, recording three consecutive shutouts against Minnesota in the Western Conference finals and helping the Ducks come within one victory of a Stanley Cup title. But he faltered early last spring and Bryzgalov took over, recording three straight playoff shutouts and coming up with the second-longest scoreless streak in post-season history – 31 minutes and 21 seconds longer than Giguere’s run.
“I don’t compete against Bryz. He’s my teammate,” Giguere said. “I hope when Bryz plays, he has success. I worry about my game and the effort that I bring into the rink every day. That’s what my focus is on. That’s the only thing I can control. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year with me, as far as my future. But right now it’s here, and I want it to be here.”
The Blues, who had the NHL’s worst record last season, have dropped a club-record 12 straight road games. They will take an 0-3 record into their home opener Thursday.
“I can’t wait to get home,” left wing Keith Tkachuk said after playing in his 900th NHL regular-season game. “There’s nothing better than playing at home – especially coming off a difficult road trip like this. Our power play didn’t do much, so that’s very disappointing. Obviously, we didn’t get the results we wanted. But it’s a long season and hopefully it’ll turn around soon.”
Curtis Sanford made his season debut for St. Louis and stopped 32 shots in place of Manny Legace, who gave up nine goals in losses to San Jose and Los Angeles.
“You look at the teams we played, and this was a tough swing,” Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. “Anaheim has a lot of speed. They attack you and get you on your heels. We had some chances in the second period, but Giguere didn’t give up too many rebounds.”
The Blues, assessed 23 minor penalties in their first two games, paid the price the first time they were short-handed against the Ducks. Defenceman Eric Brewer was off for hooking when Kunitz scored at 16:42 of the opening period on a deflection of Teemu Selanne’s one-timer from the top of the left circle. Chris Pronger also got an assist for his first point with Anaheim.
Martin Rucinsky was serving a hooking penalty when Sanford stopped Andy McDonald’s shot from a sharp angle, and Kunitz converted the rebound at the edge of the crease just 35 seconds into the third period. Kunitz, playing left wing on the Ducks’ No. 1 line with Selanne and McDonald, had two multigoal games last season.
“Most of our goals have been on power plays so far, but that’s what happens when you start having good chemistry and guys are working the puck around,” Kunitz said. “Andy and Teemu are fast, skilled players. They like to play give-and-go with the puck and they aren’t greedy players. They like to share the puck, so it makes you a better player. And if you’re in the right position, you get the puck.”
Selanne, who assisted on both goals, was formally presented with the Bill Masterton Trophy in a pre-game ceremony. The award is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Notes: The Blues scored an NHL-low 197 goals last season and were shut out seven times while missing the playoffs for the first time since 1979. … Only twice in franchise history have the Blues gotten off to a worse start. They lost their first six games in 1977-78, and their first four in 1987-88. … Blues D Barret Jackman was scratched because of a strained left knee. He missed the final 19 games last season because of a broken jaw. … The Ducks are unbeaten in seven home games against St. Louis since a 3-2 loss on March 17, 2002.