In their first game since Giguere heavily criticized his teammates and questioned their commitment, the Colorado Avalanche jumped all over a heavy-legged Ducks team for a 4-1 victory Wednesday night.
Giguere, who led the Ducks to the Cup in 2007, made 21 saves and the Avalanche got a shorthanded goal from captain Gabriel Landeskog in a morale-boosting triumph --their third road win and first since Feb.14. Colorado was 1-8-1 with 15 goals scored in its previous 10 games.
"It's big. I'm not going to lie," Landeskog said. "It's big, especially the tough times we've been going through here lately."
How much of the win had to do with Giguere's comments?
"It was bit of a spark for us, no doubt," Landeskog said. "Showing some emotion and getting [angry] I think is important. The way he did it -- there's different thoughts about how he did that and how he could have handled the situation and he knows that and we've talked about that and solved that as a team. We've moved on past that, and I think tonight we came out as completely new team."
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf returned from a leg injury and looked quite rusty. Defenseman Cam Fowler left the game with an upper body and coach Bruce Boudreau did not have an update. The only positive note for the Ducks, who needed one point to clinch, was Teemu Selanne's 674th career goal, which capped a beautiful end-to-end passing sequence in the second period.
"When we stink, we stink," Boudreau said. "When we're good, we're good. We're good as a team and we stink as a team. We stunk. That team was ready to play. We thought we knew they were ready to play, and we just had no push back at all for them."
Giguere called out his team after a loss Monday, saying "It's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed to be here right now." Apparently they listened. Giguere did his part, particularly with some early stops and a glove grab off Bobby Ryan in the second period.
After the buzzer Patrick Bordeleau was the first to hug Giguere, who got his first win in eight starts (0-4-2). Colorado had lost 10 of its previous 12 visits to Anaheim.
"I didn't feel that we had everybody's attention," Giguere said. "We're in last place in the League. There's got to be, at some point, a change in attitude and a change in behavior in the room and a will to win. I know that the games remaining for us don't mean much, but we can make them mean something inside this dressing room.
"We haven't won on the road in probably two months. Tonight we beat an excellent team. We played the best game I've seen us play in a long time. It's a good start for us. But it's only one game."
Colorado took a 4-1 lead into the third, partly because of a rough stretch by Getzlaf and Luca Sbisa.
Sbisa took a bad interference penalty and Matt Duchene finished off some nice puck movement with a one-timer at 7:54, just before the penalty expired, to make it 3-0. Sbisa later tried to clear the puck to the boards but it deflected off a defender's stick and Jamie McGinn rifled a water-bottle wrist shot high past Jonas Hiller at 17:30.
Getzlaf went 0-for-5 in the faceoff circle in the first period and was beaten shorthanded in the second by Landeskog when Landeskog drove down the left wing and cut across for a backhand to make it 2-0. Landeskog's eighth goal ended a seven-game scoring drought.
Getzlaf admitted some pucks got away from him and he needed to move his feet more. Anaheim played its 26th game in 46 days, but no one pointed to a lack of rest as a reason for the loss.
"We kind of came out a little flat," Getzlaf said. "We had a few chances early that we didn't bury. Jiggy kind of saved a few early that could of changed the momentum a little bit that we didn't take advantage of. They came out and capitalized. They were skating, they were hitting, and we weren't. That's something we definitely have to re-group and get ready for the big game Saturday [against the Los Angeles Kings].
"Tonight we got outworked, and we can't let that happen again in our building."
The return of Getzlaf allowed the Ducks to have Matthew Lombardi center the second line and reunite the shutdown line of Daniel Winnik, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. But the Koivu line was on the ice for Colorado's first goal as Anaheim was asleep at the start.
John Mitchell was all by himself on the left side of the net to whack in Duchene's rebound 64 seconds into the game. Mitchell's 10th goal was his first in 12 games.
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