ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mathieu Schneider played his first game for the Anaheim Ducks and took a shot in a shootout for the first time in his career.
The 38-year-old defenceman made his Anaheim debut a memorable one Thursday night, scoring the only goal of the shootout in the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Schneider, signed as a free agent during the off-season to help fill in the vacancy left by Scott Niedermayer, took the Ducks’ second shot in the tiebreaker and beat Fredrik Norrena between the pads, the puck trickling across the goal-line as the goalie frantically reached back to try to stop it.
“I never would have imagined that finish,” Schneider said, adding that he now has a record in shootouts. “I’m 100 per cent now. I’m one for one.”
Being a defenceman, he could hardly believe it when coach Randy Carlyle told him to get ready to shoot.
“I thought he was kidding at first,” Schneider said.
Carlyle said, “It was just one of those things that you do on the bench; you make a decision and you go with it.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped shots by Sergei Fedorov, Rick Nash and David Vyborny during the shootout, clinching it with a glove save of Vyborny’s shot.
The win ended Anaheim’s four-game losing streak and snapped a four-game winning streak by Columbus.
“I think we played well from the beginning to the end,” said Giguere, who made 19 saves. “We didn’t have any letdowns. We finished on a positive note, so we should be happy with that.”
Shortly after Anaheim’s Rob Niedermayer broke a scoreless tie 13 seconds into the third period, Nikolai Zherdev tied it on a power play with his third goal of the season.
Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire, who has a 6-2 record and 1.25 goals-against average, was given the night off, so Norrena got his first start in nine days. He finished with 33 saves.
“A tough way to lose,” Norrena said. “We had some problems early in the game, and they came out flying and were well-rested.”
Columbus was coming off a 4-1 win over the Kings in Los Angeles a night earlier. The Ducks had three days off before facing the Blue Jackets.
Rob Niedermayer, who missed three games because of a groin injury, put the Ducks ahead with a fine individual effort. Skating down the right boards, he swerved to his left across the crease and got off a shot that Norrena blocked.
But the goalie couldn’t control the puck and Niedermayer, who angled toward the left post, poked it in as Norrena tried to block it with his right foot. The goal was Niedermayer’s first of the season.
Zherdev skated down the right of the crease, beat Anaheim defenceman Sean O’Donnell to the rebound of Ron Hainsey’s 50-foot slap shot and knocked the puck into the net behind Giguere at 3:46 of the period.
While there was no scoring in the second period, there were a barrage of punches thrown. There were three fights, the last resulting in Anaheim’s Andy McDonald and Columbus’ Ole-Kristian Tollefsen drawing 10-minute misconduct penalties.
Tollefsen had 17 penalty minutes – one more than he totalled in his first 10 games this season.
In a 4-0 win over Anaheim in Columbus on Oct. 5, Columbus’ rookie Jared Boll had knocked the Ducks’ Travis Moen out of the game with a shoulder to the head, a hard but clean hit. Boll and Moen had a rematch when they tangled in the first of the three fights in the period.
Norrena made 14 saves in the first period, eight during four Anaheim power plays.
“We knew we kind of weathered the storm with the power plays,” Hainsey said. “We knew we had to stay out of the box.
“It was something that was mentioned as a key and we just tried to tilt the ice the other way and get some shots on the goalie in traffic.”
Notes: Leclaire stopped 28 shots in the Blue Jackets’ season-opening shutout of the Ducks, who had begun their season with two games in London and another in Detroit. … The Blue Jackets won twice at Anaheim last season with Norrena in goal, the first time 4-3 and the second 5-4 in a shootout.