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Ducks hold off the Flames

With Giguere and Bryzgalov hurting, rookie goaltender Wall is solid in his first start and Selanne scores two goals in a 5-3 victory.

November 27, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Faced with a perilous goaltending situation entering Sunday night's game against the Calgary Flames, the Ducks simply inserted a wall in front of their net.

In their case, it was 21-year-old Michael Wall, who had only 39 games of experience in the minors before being asked to start his first NHL game for the best team in the Western Conference.

With Jean-Sebastien Giguere not at full strength and Ilya Bryzgalov having a groin injury, Wall made 19 saves to help the Ducks to a 5-3 victory at the Honda Center.

It was a whirlwind 48 hours for the goalie, who arrived late Saturday. Wall got the nod when it was determined after a Sunday morning skate session that Giguere would not make his fifth consecutive start because of what he called "wear and tear" in his lower body.

"It was kind of on short notice, so I didn't really have too much time to think about it, which I think was a bonus," Wall said. "I just went out there and tried to do the same things I was doing down in Portland."

Wall, who only two days ago was backing up Michael Leighton in the minors, made his first save on a shot by Jarome Iginla early in the first period before making a much better point-blank stop on Marcus Nilson. He also foiled Iginla again on a rebound shot late in the period.

"He settled down and made a couple of great stops in the first period," defenseman Chris Pronger said.

"It gave us a little bit of life after that."

The Ducks lent their support. Teemu Selanne scored two goals for the second time this season, and Ryan Getzlaf's power-play goal gave them the lead for good midway through the third period.

Samuel Pahlsson scored for the second consecutive game and Todd Marchant added an empty-net goal four seconds after the Flames' Daymond Langkow cut the lead to one with 20.8 seconds remaining. Pronger and Francois Beauchemin each had two assists.

Wall's performance drew rave reviews afterward.

"You wouldn't know it was his first game," Selanne said. "He did a great job. He looked so nice and calm."

The ideal scenario would have been for Leighton, Portland's No. 1 goalie, to be recalled, but the Ducks feared he would be claimed on reverse waivers because he has played 42 NHL games and is making more than $75,000 this season in the minors.

So the call went to Wall. David McKee has backed up Giguere in Bryzgalov's absence, but Coach Randy Carlyle said he went with Wall because of his experience.

It may wind up as a one-shot deal for Wall. Giguere didn't offer specifics for his injury but said it isn't similar to the groin and hamstring problems that plagued him last season and that he's "99% percent sure I'm going to be playing in Edmonton" on Tuesday.

The Ducks could also get Bryzgalov back by midweek. But they also found that in Wall, they have someone to turn to in an emergency.

"He could make $4 million too," Selanne quipped.

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eric.stephens@latimes.com

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