DENVER -- It sure looks like the Anaheim Ducks struck gold in the free-agent market after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs a year ago.
Signees Sheldon Souray, Daniel Winnik and Viktor Fasth have played major roles in the Ducks' 7-1-1 start –- the best start since 2006-07 -- and all three contributed Wednesday night in a 3-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
Souray, a 36-year-old defenseman, already has four goals and seven points after scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Avalanche. Winnik, a former Colorado forward, has five goals and three assists after setting up Francois Beauchemin's second-period goal. Fasth, a 30-year-old rookie from Sweden, turned aside 31 shots for his first career NHL shutout and is unbeaten in four starts. He has a 0.98 goals-against average and a save percentage of .962.
The victory moved the Ducks into first place in the Pacific Division -– San Jose also has 15 points but has played one more game -– and into second place in the Western Conference, three points behind Chicago.
The Ducks have won four games in a row, have gone 5-0-1 in their past six games and are 3-0-1 on the road with five games remaining on a grueling six-game trip.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, have lost two consecutive games -– both at home -– and five of the past seven to fall two games below .500 at 4-6-0. Colorado already has been shut out three times.
The Ducks needed just eight first-period shots to grab a 2-0 lead on goals by Souray and Saku Koivu.
Souray, who has goals in three consecutive games and has rejuvenated his career, opened the scoring at 6:20 with a blast from just inside the blue line that found its way through a number of sticks and skates before slipping behind goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Souray, Teemu Selanne and Koivu combined for a power-play goal at 15:39 during a two-man advantage after Colorado's Michael Sgarbossa and Ryan O'Byrne took interference and hooking penalties, respectively, 40 seconds apart.
It took the Ducks 34 seconds to convert. Souray fed Selanne at the base of the right circle, Selanne passed in front, and Koivu nudged the puck into the net while stationed near the left post.
The Ducks increased the lead to 3-0 at 10:45 of the second period when Winnik threw a centering pass for Beauchemin for a one-timer from the top of the slot.
The Avalanche failed to register a shot on goal during a first-period power play and have gone 3-for-33 with the man advantage this season.
NOTES: Teemu Selanne recorded his 750th assist on a Saku Koivu goal in the first period at Colorado tonight. It was just the latest major milestone in Selanne's certain Hall-of-Fame career, many of which have coincidentally come against the Avalanche.
Selanne actually spent one season in Colorado (2003-04), where a knee injury limited him to just 16 goals. Here is what he has accomplished against the Avs since:
500th career goal (Nov. 23, 2006)
600th career goal (March 21, 2010)
Tied Ducks record for points in a career (Feb. 12, 2008)
First 40-year-old to record 5 points in a game with a hat trick (March 28, 2011)
Passed Jari Kurri to become highest-scoring Finn in NHL history (March 13, 2012)
750th assist (February 6, 2013)
Selanne is currently looking for his 250th power play goal of his career, which would move him past Phil Esposito for third all time.
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