ANAHEIM, Calif. - Ilya Bryzgalov is finally out from under Jean-Sebastien Giguere's enormous shadow, and the Phoenix Coyotes now have a goaltender they can depend on.
Radim Vrbata scored his second goal of the game on a power play with 1:07 left in regulation, then added the clinching goal in the shootout to give the Phoenix Coyotes a 4-3 victory Friday and make Bryzgalov a winner in his return to Anaheim.
"You have to play hard, even if it's against your old team," Bryzgalov said after stopping 23 shots and two more in the shootout. "You have to be professional when you step on the ice to win the game no matter what, but we have friendships after the game. I was here seven years and it was a great seven years. It was an unforgettable time in Anaheim."
Bryzgalov was placed on waivers by the defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks last week and quickly snapped up by the Coyotes. Giguere had a rinkside seat at the end of the Anaheim bench for Bryzgalov's first game against his ex-teammates, while new Ducks backup Jonas Hiller stopped 35 shots in his third NHL start.
Shane Doan scored on the first of Phoenix's two shots in the shootout, while Bryzgalov thwarted attempts by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Bryzgalov was 0-5 in shootouts while playing for the Ducks, allowing seven goals on 16 shots for a .563 save percentage.
All four goalies who have started against the Ducks after leaving the organization beat them at Anaheim in their first start against them. Martin Gerber won 6-2 with 35 saves on Dec. 6, 2005, with Carolina; Mikhail Shtalenkov won 3-2 in overtime with 19 saves on Nov. 20, 1998, with Edmonton; and Ron Tugnutt won 5-2 with 24 saves on March 2, 1994, with Montreal.
Bryzgalov is 3-0 and has stopped 79 of 83 shots in three starts with the Coyotes, who obtained him after 5-0 and 6-0 losses to the San Jose Sharks. In his first two games, he beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 and 4-1.
"It doesn't matter how good your team is, you need good goaltending," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "You look at the Ducks last year with Bryzgalov and Giguere. If you look at the Stanley Cup champions over the last 30 years, from Grant Fuhr to Patrick Roy, you're got to have goaltending."
Despite his second-string status with the Ducks, Bryzgalov distinguished himself when given the opportunity. In 2006, he beat Calgary 3-0 in Game 7 of the Western Conference quarter-finals and frustrated Colorado by scores of 5-0 and 3-0 in the first two games of the next round. It made him the sixth goalie in NHL history with three consecutive shutouts in the postseason, joining Giguere in that exclusive group.
Bryzgalov made 98 saves during his 249:15 scoreless streak, the second-longest run in playoff history behind George Hainsworth of the 1929-30 Montreal Canadiens. In the conference semifinals against Colorado, Bryzgalov joined Bill Durnan (1944), Jacques Plante (1954) and Tony Esposito (1970) as the only rookies in NHL history to win all four games of a playoff sweep.
Bryzgalov was saluted on the scoreboard's video screen with a montage of acrobatic saves from his Ducks career during a play stoppage at 9:50 of the first period, four seconds after Peter Mueller opened the scoring.
"I have different feelings, you know, especially when they played (the tribute) on the Jumbotron," Bryzgalov said. "I was crying a little bit. My eyes were a little bit wet. I want to say thank you to everybody - the fans, my former teammates, the whole organization."
The sellout crowd of 17,174 cheered, whistled and applauded throughout the video presentation, and Bryzgalov acknowledged them by raising his stick and then his glove.
Then he gave up one of the ugliest goals of his NHL career.
Getzlaf, who signed a five-year, US$26.625-million contract extension on Tuesday, was generously credited with his eighth of the season at 12:52 of the first when Phoenix defenceman Nick Boynton tried to control the puck in front of his own net and accidentally poked it between Bryzgalov's legs after Getzlaf and Phoenix's Matt Jones battled for possession in the slot.
Vrbata send the game into overtime, beating Hiller to the glove side with a 20-foot wrist shot from the left circle. His seventh goal of the season came 40 seconds after Ducks captain Chris Pronger was sent off for slashing Doan.
"I saw him cutting across and nobody's coming out on him," said Pronger, who scored twice for Anaheim. "Those are the types of penalties you've got to take in situations like that. And we've got to kill those."
The Coyotes have won three consecutive games for the first time since beating Dallas on Jan. 9, 2007, for their seventh straight victory.
Notes: Shtalenkov, whom the Ducks left unprotected in the 1998 expansion draft, would eventually shut them out three times in a span of four starts. ... The Coyotes are among four teams without an overtime loss, along with Atlanta, St. Louis and the New York Islanders. ... Anaheim RW Todd Bertuzzi, playing his second game after missing the previous 14 with a concussion, got an assist on Pronger's first goal.