ANAHEIM, Calif. – Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist, Mathieu Schneider and Corey Perry scored power-play goals, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped a 10-game winless streak against the Buffalo Sabres with a 4-1 victory Wednesday night.
About a half-hour before the opening faceoff, Ducks general manager Brian Burke announced that playoff MVP Scott Niedermayer decided to return to the defending Stanley Cup champions after spending five months contemplating retirement.
Burke’s remarks were replayed before the game on the video board the game and again during the first intermission, with the sellout crowd of 17,174 crowd roaring its approval.
Jochen Hecht scored for the Sabres, who made their first visit to Anaheim since Oct. 24, 2003. Ryan Miller made 29 saves. The last time they lost to the Anaheim was Jan. 1, 1999, when Teemu Selanne scored three goals against Dominik Hasek in the Ducks’ 7-2 victory in Buffalo.
Selanne, a 10-time all-star who led the Ducks last season with 48 goals and 94 points, is still deciding whether to come back or retire following his first Stanley Cup title in 15 NHL seasons. Selanne became a father for the fourth time Wednesday, when wife Sirpa delivered the couple’s first daughter.
This was the first time Miller played professionally against brother Drew, a left wing with the Ducks. Both enjoyed enormous success with their respective teams last season. Drew won a Stanley Cup ring with Anaheim, while Ryan made the Eastern Conference all-star team as a starter and had a franchise-record 40 victories to help the Sabres win the President’s Trophy.
Neither team went on the power play until Buffalo defenceman Jaroslav Spacek received minor penalties 3:11 apart in the second period. The Sabres survived the first short-handed situation, but the Ducks took a 2-1 lead at 12:22 while Spacek was serving a hooking penalty.
Schneider scored on a one-timer from the top of the right circle while teammate Todd Bertuzzi and Buffalo defenceman Andrej Sekera were screening Miller. About six minutes later, McDonald skated past Adam Mair along the left boards and threw the puck toward the crease, where Bertuzzi redirected it past Miller with defenceman Toni Lydman a step behind.
Perry made it 4-1 with his 14th goal, tipping in a slap shot from the right point by Francois Beauchemin while Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik was off for interference.
The Sabres scored first for the eighth consecutive game, after giving up the first goal in each of their previous 14 contests. Hecht converted a cross-ice pass from Jason Pominville at 4:07 of the opening period during a 2-on-1 break.
McDonald tied it at 15:33 of the first, tipping in defenceman Kent Huskins’ slap shot from the left point while Sabres defenceman Nathan Paetsch was screening his goalie.
Notes: Niedermayer had two years and US$13.5 million remaining on his contract when the season began. So far, he has lost about $2.3 million in salary, an amount that will keep increasing until he plays his next game in about a week to 10 days. … Chris Pronger, another Norris Trophy-winning defenceman, will continue wearing the captain’s “C” after Niedermayer returns. … Anaheim outshot Buffalo 16-3 in the second period. … Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves for the Ducks.