UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Anaheim Ducks’ road to the White House was paved with three big goals on a Super Tuesday for the Stanley Cup champs.
Teemu Selanne rejoined the lineup after sitting out the first 56 games and chipped in an assist on the first goal. That helped the Ducks end a long scoreless drought and carried them to a solid 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders, ending a six-game winless streak Tuesday night.
There were lots of smiles in the post-game dressing room as the team prepared for a quick trip to Washington, where the Ducks will be honoured Wednesday at the White House for their Stanley Cup title last spring.
Selanne hadn’t played since that Game 5 win over Ottawa.
“That’s going to be exciting,” said Selanne, who assisted on Scott Niedermayer’s second-period goal. “I have been there a couple of times, but the president wasn’t there.”
Until Tuesday, neither was the Anaheim offence.
Selanne paid instant dividends for the Ducks, who were 0-5-1 in their previous six and hadn’t scored in two games. He started the play by getting the puck to Chris Pronger at the right point. The Ducks all-star defenceman faked a shot and slid a pass to Niedermayer – also an all-star blue-liner – in the right circle.
Niedermayer, who made a delayed return of his own in December after thinking about retirement, wound up and put a shot between Rick DiPietro’s pads 2:36 into the second. That gave the Ducks their first goal since the middle period of a 5-1 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday, snapping a scoreless streak of 177 minutes, 56 seconds.
“Eventually, it was going to turn around,” Niedermayer said. “Everyone is aware that we hadn’t scored in a while. To score definitely releases a little bit of tension, and you just go out and play after that.”
Todd Marchant made it 2-0 at 2:51 of the third period and Doug Weight scored about five minutes later for the Ducks, who entered with an NHL-worst 2.36 goals per game. Anaheim hadn’t had as many as two goals in five games, and reached three for the first time since their previous win, 4-2 at Minnesota on Jan. 18.
“We have had a strong work ethic specifically in the past three games, but we were finally rewarded for some of that work,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 25 shots to win for the first time since a 33-save effort at Nashville on Jan. 17. He was never really tested by the Islanders, who mustered only 15 shots through two periods.
It was Giguere’s third shutout of the season and second straight as he earned one in Anaheim’s 1-0 shootout loss at St. Louis on Friday.
He held off the Islanders, who came in averaging only 2.38 goals and lost their fifth straight – all in regulation – and for the seventh time in eight games (1-6-1). DiPietro made 23 saves against Anaheim, who hadn’t visited Long Island since Nov. 1, 2003.
The injury-riddled Islanders handed the Ducks six power plays and only had one in return. New York has scored only five goals in its skid and has slipped to 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
“The bottom line is we have to win games,” DiPietro said. “We were better tonight, but we still have to stay out of the penalty box.”
Selanne came back after only one week of practice with the team. The Ducks could certainly use his offence now that they are five games into a nine-game trip.
He wasn’t at his sharpest, but said the only way to get back into shape is to play games. The Ducks will face the New York Rangers on Thursday, play at New Jersey on Friday and take on Detroit on Sunday.
“This was an important win. Hopefully this is going to be a turning point,” Selanne said. “I want to get tired and I want to keep pushing myself and get all the rustiness out.”
Anaheim couldn’t take advantage of three power-play chances in the first period, but cashed in less than a minute into Bill Guerin’s high-sticking penalty when Niedermayer scored.
Marchant doubled the lead with a hard back-hander from the right circle that got between DiPietro and the right post. Weight scored his first in 10 games to make it 3-0 at 7:34.
That led to sporadic chants of “Refund! Refund!” from the sparse crowd of 9,649 at Nassau Coliseum.
“It’s times like this when guys have to step it up and take responsibility out there,” Guerin said. “Our effort was better, but it’s still not where we need it to be.”
Notes: Giguere has 29 NHL shutouts in 11 seasons. … Marchant snapped an eight-game streak without a goal and scored just his second in 30 games. … Selanne’s first game with the Ducks was Feb. 10, 1996, against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. … Islanders C Mike Sillinger (hip) sat out and is expected to miss three weeks. … DiPietro, the Islanders’ lone all-star, dropped to 19-20-6. … New York RW Miroslav Satan was limited by a nagging right knee injury, playing briefly after crashing into the boards in the first period.