– The last time the Anaheim Ducks
played the Colorado Avalanche
and Jean-Sebastien Giguere
, their season was in rubble.
A New Year's Eve loss dropped the Ducks to 11 games under .500 and closed out a forgettable 2011.
But Anaheim's latest triumph, a 3-2 victory against Colorado at the Honda Center on Sunday, makes that seem like 10 years ago.
A Ducks team that was known for finding ways to lose found a way to score three goals on its first 12 shots and survived a late rally by Colorado, which scpred twice in a 97-second span to pull to 3-2 with 3:32 to go but fell short.
"We were doing our best imitation of Muhammad Ali tonight," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
scored on two breakaways, including one off a 150-foot pass from captain Ryan Getzlaf
, and Jonas Hiller
stopped 43 of 45 shots as Anaheim extended its points streak to nine games, its longest since a nine-game streak in October and November of 2008.
Anaheim's 8-0-1 run still leaves it 11 points out of the eighth spot in the West, but they've vowed to chip away at this boulder.
"It's realistic in our group all the time," said Getzlaf, who held his 11-month-old son, Ryder, during his media scrum. "Anyone who's been here has known that we've started slow in a lot of years and this is the worst. But we've just got to keep playing. Every day is a new day for us and a new day that we can play and try and get back in this thing."
Hiller is on a 5-0-1 run with only eight goals allowed in that span. His shutout was spoiled with 5:09 remaining on a misplay between Cam Fowler
and Francois Beauchemin
behind the Anaheim net.
Colorado's Milan Hejduk
slipped in a goal from the left side off Gabriel Landeskog
's rebound at 16:28. But the Avalanche couldn't score with an extra attacker and lost despite outshooting Anaheim, 45-18.
"We deserved better tonight," Giguere said. "But we played a pretty good road game. We controlled the play for most of the game and had a couple of breakdowns that they capitalized on. These things happen and key for us is to move on."
Giguere acknowledged how different his former team is from that New Year's Eve game.
"It's a team that everybody considers a contender," Giguere said. "They have so much talent there and a world-class goalie. Nobody knows how they ended up where they were. We knew that … they were going to start playing better. It was a matter of time."
On the second game of a back-to-back sequence, Colorado stuck with the hot Giguere and his previous 3-0 lifetime record against his former team, including that emotional homecoming victory on Dec.31.
But Giguere was beaten twice by Ryan and allowed Getzlaf to push across Teemu Selanne
's pass for a 2-0 lead 20 seconds into the second period.
Ryan actually had three breakaways in the game.
"I don't think I've had three breakaways in a season in a long time," Ryan said. "I'm not exactly built for speed on breakaways."
Ryan's second goal caught Colorado on a line change and Getzlaf floated a pass from the Ducks' corner to mid-ice for Ryan, who wristed it glove side past his former teammate for a 3-0 lead.
"I scored five-hole on the first one," Ryan said. "I think he was just kind of waiting. He realizes that's one of my favorite places to shoot, so I just tried to make a quick move and get it out because I know he drops his glove. I tried to be patient with it."
Colorado outshot Anaheim, 15-2, in the first period but faced a 1-0 deficit on Ryan's second shorthanded goal this season.
Hejduk's pass to Ryan O'Reilly
went off the latter's stick near the Avalanche blue line, and Ryan swept in alone and wristed a shot past Giguere at 2:49.
Colorado failed on two power plays in the first 10 minutes and had a 2-on-1 broken up by a sliding Beauchemin, who seems to be playing the best hockey of his second stint with Anaheim.
The Avalanche, attempting to win every road game in Los Angeles and Anaheim in a single season for the first time in franchise history, directed 88 at the net and had 27 blocked and 16 miss.
"I thought it was one of our better road games of the year," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "I thought we came out, had good energy to start the game. It was just one of those nights where sometimes things just don't go your way.
"Their goalie was good tonight. You have to give him a lot of credit."
Selanne took sole possession of 44th on the all-time assists lists with 733 on Getzlaf's goal.