ANAHEIM – The Ducks honored their old goaltender, J.S. Giguere, during the first period tonight at Honda Center. By the time the game was over, they had allowed him an even bigger tribute – a victory.
Giguere, who spent 10 years with the Ducks and is now a member of the Colorado Avalanche, only had to make 18 saves in leading the Avs to a 4-2 victory over his former team. Lubomir Visnovsky and Bobby Ryan tallied for Anaheim, but it wasn’t enough as Colorado raced out to a 3-0 lead and hardly looked back.
"I was a little nervous. It’s been so long - it’s been two years, that’s a long time in hockey," Giguere said. "At the same time, I was excited. I wanted to have a good performance. I am really pleased with the result. It speaks to all the guys who played in front of me."
Giguere was honored during the first TV timeout in the opening period with a video montage showing his greatest moments as a Duck, after which he was given a standing ovation and waved the crowd.
"I was pretty touched," said Giguere, who won the 2003 Conn Smythe Award and the 2007 Stanley Cup during a storied career in Anaheim. "I wasn’t necessarily expecting a bad reaction, but I’m glad that people reacted that way. Obviously, I consider this place my second home – my kids were born here so it means a lot to me when I come back here. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ducks fans, they’ve always been amazing to me. I’ve never really gotten a chance to say thanks to them, obviously, so thank you guys."
Soon afterward the video tribute, Colorado got on the board when a clearing attempt by Visnovsky took a bad hop off the glass. The puck ended up on the stick of Ryan O’Reilly, and he sent it down to Milan Hejduk, who jammed it between Jonas Hiller’s pads.
The Avs made it 3-0 in a hurry in the second, striking twice in a span of 1:16 on goals by Kyle Quincey and Chuck Kobasew. Quincey fired a slap shot that flew past Hiller, and soon afterward Jay McClement backhanded the puck off Hiller’s pad and into the crease, where McClement punched it in.
"I thought we had a good first period," said Saku Koivu, playing his first game after missing eight with a groin strain. "We were down by one goal. Then, back-to-back shifts, they score two goals. Then, all of a sudden you are down by three goals instead of one. That is when mentally it gets tough and frustrating. We got away from our gameplan. When you are down by three goals, it’s really tough to bounce back and get these comeback wins."
The Ducks finally broke through when Visnovsky launched a point shot soon after the draw that deflected off Quincey’s stick and beat Giguere.
Colorado made it 4-1 on Hejduk’s second of the game, on the power play, early in the third, and the Ducks tried to make a game of it when Ryan knocked in a Koivu feed with 7:22 left. But that was as close as the Ducks would get in dropping their sixth in the last seven games.
"I didn’t see them hanging their heads on the bench," said Duck coach Bruce Boudreau. "I know with five minutes to go they were all up and saying ‘Let’s get one more and we’ll pull the goalie and tie it.’ If we didn’t get that penalty early and power play, I thought that for sure this was a game that we were going to finally come back and tie it up."
With the end of 2011 just hours away after this one ended, the Ducks have to hope 2012 treats them better. Tonight’s loss dropped them to 10-21-6 on the season.
"It’s never fun when you lose at all and it seems like we’ve been doing a lot of losing lately," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. "You can’t even really describe it. It’s a terrible feeling. You feel like you’re letting the fans down, the team down and the coaching staff. I think we’re all just searching for an answer right now. It’s tough."
20:00 - END OF GAME Anaheim is unable to get any close after pulling Hiller and the game ends with a 4-2 loss to the Avalanche. It is the second straight loss for the Ducks, who finish off the 2011 calendar with a 10-21-6 record.
19:09 - Both Perry and Cogliano get a couple of nice attempts off shorthanded, but Giguere stands tall for Colorado.
17:00 - Selanne nearly beats his former teammate of so many years in Giguere, but his shot sails wide.
13:50 - Hiller robs Landeskog on a with a beauty of a save.
12:38 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Koivu connects on a nice pass through the slot to Ryan, who deposits the puck into a wide open net. It's Bobby Ryan's 13th goal of the season and his third in the last three games. The score is now 4-2 Colorado.
10:40 - Hiller makes a nice pad save to deny Van Der Gulik, keeping the score at 4-1 Avalanche.
7:21 - The Ducks are unable to get one past Giguere on the power play and remain down by three.
5:21 - COL Penalty - David Jones, 2 min. slashing.
1:49 - COLORADO GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MILAN HEJDUK - Avs strike right away, as Hejduk, gets the pass from O'Reilly and fires it into the open net. It's 4-1 Colorado.
1:16 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. interference. Koivu looked like he was taken down by Hejduk, but the call went the other way.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks give up two quickies, but get one back from Visnovsky and it's 3-1.
18:22 - Hagman tries to crash in, but Giguere denies, sending Hagman flying.
16:50 - Fowler forces his way in deep and backhands wide. Ducks are pushing a little more after that goal.
15:10 - Ducks almost get another one as a pinching Sbisa tips a Ryan feed just wide.
12:26 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Right off the draw won by Koivu, Ryan gets the puck to Visnovsky at the point, and he fires a slap shot that deflects off defenseman Quincey's stick and under Giguere. Ducks finally break through as the crowd comes alive. It's 3-1.
10:30 - Parros back out there after visiting the room following that blocked shot with the foot.
8:26 - Hiller with a nice kick save on Jones, who got behind Fowler, sending Jones sprawling.
7:05 - COLORADO GOAL - CHUCK KOBASEW - Avs strike for the second time in 1:16, as McClement backhands a pass into the crease that kicks off Hiller straight in front, and Quincey punches it through. It's 3-0.
5:49 - COLORADO GOAL - KYLE QUINCEY - Avs cycle the puck around the rink before Quincey fires a slap shot that flies past Hiller, hits the inside of the pipe and then the net. It might have been deflected on its way, but either way, it's 2-0 Colorado.
Parros went off after blocking a shot with his foot earlier. We'll try and keep you posted.
4:20 - Perry feeds Ryan in the slot, but his shot is blocked by O'Brien.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, the Ducks on the power play.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks trail it 1-0, but have 32 seconds of power play time when we get back.
19:40 - Giguere lets a rebound leak in front of him, but gets a break when the official behind him blows the play dead.
18:40 - Selanne, Getzlaf, Hagman, Fowler and Visnovsky on the first unit.
18:32 - COL Penalty - David Jones, 2 min. high sticking. Perry gets clipped by Jones and it's the first power play for either side.
16:54 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa and COL Penalty - Erik Johnson, 5 min. each fighting. Sbisa knocks down Hejduk in the Anaheim zone and Johnson goes after him. They tangle just as Ryan pushes down Hejduk. No penalty for Ryan, thank goodness.
16:45 - Perry and O'Brian with a pretty good collission behind the net.
14:36 - Former Duck O'Brien thinks current Duck Perry is too close to former Duck Giguere after the save, so he does some pushing and shoving. That's where it ends, pretty much.
12:15 - Visnovsky with a hard slapper stopped by Giguere.
10:10 - Selanne with the first shot on Giguere.
10:00 - Ducks trying to throw the puck on net, but still nothing that's reached Giguere yet.
Here's that video tribute if you weren't here to see it.
7:32 - Right after Galiardi backhands a shot off the crossbar, Hiller gets run over and the net is knocked off.
6:35 - COLORADO GOAL - MILAN HEJDUK - Visnovsky's attempted clear off the glass takes a bad hop and ends up on the stick of O'Reilly. He sends it down to Hejduk, who jams it between Hiller's pads for the 1-0 lead.
During the first timeout, the Ducks show a very cool video montage in tribute to Giguere, as the crowd stands and cheers the whole time and get louder when they show Giguere on the screen live, saluting the fans from the bench area. Very cool moment. We'll have it on the website very soon.
6:15 - Perry slings a shot from the right wing circle that loudly rings the near post. Doesn't count as a shot on goal, so the Ducks still at zero.
6:00 - Beauchemin levels Van Der Gulik in the offensive zone.
4:09 - Not much to speak of around the net early. Ducks haven't throw a shot at Giguere yet.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:07 p.m. - Nice job on the anthem by Mario Bryant, first time singing here, I believe. He was a contestant in our Oh Say Can You Sing? contest in the past.
Koivu in the lineup for the first time since December 8 (groin strain), starting with Perry and Ryan. Interesting. And, of course, Giguere in net for Colorado. Starters in bold/italics.