ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jean-Sebastien Giguere says he didn’t rip into his Colorado teammates out of frustration or malice. The veteran goalie simply wants the Avalanche to take their jobs seriously, even in the final days of a lost season.
And two days after Giguere publicly trashed the Avs, the NHL’s worst team showed it was listening.
Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist, and Colorado snapped a 14-game road winless streak while preventing Anaheim from clinching a playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over the Ducks on Wednesday night.
Giguere made 21 saves in his first win in nearly two months for Colorado, which snapped a five-game skid overall. The Stanley Cup-winning goalie blasted his teammates’ work ethic and focus after the Avalanche’s listless 3-1 home loss to Calgary on Monday, saying some players were thinking too much about their post-season vacations in Las Vegas.
Giguere’s own roll of the dice paid off: The Avalanche responded to his criticism with their most impressive victory in a month, scoring three goals in the second period of just their third road win all season.
“We beat an excellent team and played the best game I’ve seen us play in a long time,” Giguere said. “It’s a good start for us. … Whenever you speak up, you expose yourself to criticism. You have to respond yourself. You can’t just say stuff and not show up the next day. I’m just as (much a) part of the problem as the other guys, and I have to be part of the solution.”
Giguere, who backstopped Anaheim to the NHL title in 2007, shut down the high-scoring Ducks for his first win in nine appearances since Feb. 14—also the date of Colorado’s last win outside Denver.
“I’m pleased,” Giguere said. “Obviously I was worried a little bit how they were going to take it. You hope they’re going to take it professionally and find a way to respond, and truthfully, I’m looking for a response in the last nine games of the season, not one game. That’s what we’re looking for, and this was a good start for us.”
John Mitchell scored 64 seconds into the first period and captain Gabriel Landeskog added a short-handed goal for the Avalanche, who hadn’t scored more than two goals in any of their last seven games. Jamie McGinn also scored.
“We came out as a completely new team and had a great game,” Landeskog said. “It’s one thing to go out and say what (Giguere) did, but to back it up with his play says a lot about who he is.”
Teemu Selanne scored his 674th career goal for the weary Pacific Division leaders, who had won five of seven. Anaheim could have finalized its post-season plans, but Jonas Hiller stopped just 12 of 16 shots behind a porous Ducks defence.
Viktor Fasth replaced Hiller for the scoreless third period for Anaheim (27-9-5), which still is in a prime position to claim the second seed in the Western Conference and its second Pacific Division title in 20 years of existence. The Ducks have a double-digit lead on Los Angeles and San Jose, although both have games in hand.
Anaheim was mostly lethargic in the finale of a five-game homestand despite the return of captain Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the last three games with an apparent injury to his right leg. Defenceman Cam Fowler then left in the first period with an upper-body injury.
“When we stink, we stink,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That team was ready to play, and we just had no push-back at all. I don’t know why, after a couple of really strong outings, we come out with a game like that. … It’s a fragile team that we were playing, and if we could come out with a lead after the first period, we’d have them. It just seemed like our guys weren’t ready to play.”
After playing 26 games in the past 46 days without any consecutive days off, the Ducks appeared more than ready for a little relief in their brutal lockout-shortened schedule. At least they’ll have just one game in the next six days, driving up the I-5 on Saturday night to face the Stanley Cup champion Kings.
“That’s just an excuse,” Getzlaf said of the Ducks’ schedule. “We’re plenty rested. We’ve only played half a season, too. We got outworked, and we can’t have that happen again in our building. You’re facing a team that has nothing to lose. They’re just coming out and going after it.”
The sparse crowd at the Ducks’ fifth home game in eight days hadn’t even settled in its seats before Mitchell scored his 10th goal from close range, ending a nine-game drought.
Landeskog caught Getzlaf napping during an Anaheim power play in the second period, turning the corner on the Ducks captain and pushing a shot past Hiller. Less than four minutes later, Duchene added his 16th goal late in a power play.
NOTES: With Getzlaf’s return, the Ducks scratched new RW Radek Dvorak, who scored two goals in Monday’s win over Edmonton. … Colorado C Paul Stastny returned from an eight-game absence with a persistent foot injury. … New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who grew up in Orange County, attended the game in a Ducks jersey.