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ANAHEIM DUCKS

Ducks end Chicago's eight-game winning streak, 3-0

Anaheim couldn't trust its goaltending or defense a few weeks ago, but has found success with Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net.

November 28, 2009|By Robyn Norwood
  • Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer sends Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien to the ice in the third period Friday.
Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer sends Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien… (Francis Specker / Associated…)

A couple of weeks ago, the Ducks couldn't trust their goaltending, and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn't seem to trust himself or the defense in front of him on the rare occasions he played.

Even Coach Randy Carlyle was only partly joking Friday when somebody said his players hadn't looked like they'd played this game before.

"I agree with you," he said to laughs all around.

That's because the Ducks had just ended the Chicago Blackhawks' eight-game winning streak with a 3-0 shutout at Honda Center, two days after Chicago dealt a 7-2 defeat to San Jose, which has the NHL's best record.

"That's why this game is amazing," said Teemu Selanne, who scored two of the Ducks' three power-play goals. "You never know what's going to happen.

"Of course, when your goalie's your best player, it gives you a chance to win every night. That's a great feeling."

Giguere, a star of the Ducks' Stanley Cup Finals teams in 2003 and 2007, made 28 saves for this 32nd career shutout. It was his third victory in five days after going almost eight months without one.

Over the three games, he has a 1.30 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage.

"We all feed from each other," Giguere said. "Right now, I can feel our defense playing with confidence. They're not scared with the puck. They're playing with assurance when they have the puck."

Carlyle gave the nod to the Ducks' power-play and penalty-killing units, along with Giguere.

"You see a guy that two weeks ago didn't have the confidence he could stop the puck," Carlyle said. "Now he feels he's seeing the puck, he's in tune with what our team is trying to do and how we're trying to play.

"He's playing like we expect him to play, and how he's been playing for a number of years here. It's part confidence, and part making sacrifices. He's worked extremely hard with our goaltending coach, Pete Peeters."

Peeters, who replaced Francois Allaire this season after the Ducks' longtime goalie coach left for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has worked closely with Giguere since shortly after a 0-3-1 road trip that left the Ducks at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

"Usually when things are going tough for a team, it's part of the responsibility of goaltenders to come up with that game to get the team back on their feet again," Peeters said.

"Definitely, the confidence is growing every day. I think he's back to playing his game again, challenging plays, challenging shooters."

Until now, the Ducks' "No. 1 and No. 1-A" goalie tandem hadn't paid dividends, with neither Jonas Hiller nor Giguere holding the baton firmly each time it was handed to him.

"The coach said, 'You win and you're in' and you've got to deal with that," Peeters said. "Now Jonas has to wait his turn, and when you're in, you have to be ready to perform."

With Giguere in net the last week, the players' confidence has been contagious.

"It goes hand in hand, knowing as a D-man, and as a forward for that matter, that if you do make a mistake, your goalie's there to bail you out," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "Jiggy's doing a great job of that right now. It changes the way you play the game."

The top line, centered by Getzlaf with Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry on the wings, has done its part defensively and offensively during the run, keeping pressure on the other team.

Perry, who entered the game tied for fifth in the NHL in scoring with 29 points, picked up his 30th point with an assist that extended his point streak to 17 games, tying the club record Selanne set in 1999.

"We talked before the homestand about how we needed to get wins," Perry said. "If we didn't, there would be changes in here. We didn't want anybody to change."

robynnorwood@verizon.com

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