ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jean-Sebastien Giguere had a little something to say about the Anaheim Ducks clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Giguere, who led the Ducks to the Cup in 2007, made 21 saves and the Avalanche got a shorthanded goal from captain Gabriel Landeskog en route to a 4-1 victory over the Duck on Wednesday night at Honda Center.
"It's big. I'm not going to lie," Landeskog said. "It's big, especially the tough times we've been going through here lately."
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf returned from a leg injury and looked quite rusty. Defenseman Cam Fowler left the game with an upper body and coach Bruce Boudreau did not have an update. The only positive note for the Ducks, who needed one point to clinch, was Teemu Selanne's 674th career goal, which capped a beautiful end-to-end passing sequence in the second period.
"When we stink, we stink," Boudreau said. "When we're good, we're good. We're good as a team and we stink as a team. We stunk. That team was ready to play. We thought we knew they were ready to play, and we just had no push back at all for them."
Colorado took a 4-1 lead into the third, partly because of some rough going by Getzlaf and Luca Sbisa.
Sbisa took a bad interference penalty and Matt Duchene finished off some nice puck movement with a one-timer at 7:54, just before the penalty expired, to make it 3-0. Sbisa later tried to clear the puck to the boards but it deflected off a defender's stick and Jamie McGinn rifled a water-bottle wrist shot high past Jonas Hiller at 17:30.
Getzlaf went 0-for-5 in the faceoff circle in the first period and was beaten shorthanded in the second by Landeskog when Colorado's captain drove down the left wing and cut across for a backhand past Hiller to make it 2-0. Landeskog's eighth goal ended a seven-game scoring drought.
Getzlaf admitted some pucks got away from him and he needed to move his feet more. Anaheim played its 26th game in 46 days, but no one pointed to a lack of rest as a reason for the loss.
"We kind of came out a little flat," Getzlaf said. "We had a few chances early that we didn't bury. Jiggy kind of saved a few early that could of changed the momentum a little bit that we didn't take advantage of. They came out and capitalized. They were skating, they were hitting, and we weren't. That's something we definitely have to re-group and get ready for the big game Saturday [against the Los Angeles Kings].
"Tonight we got outworked, and we can't let that happen again in our building."
The return of Getzlaf allowed the Ducks to have Matthew Lombardi center the second line and reunite the shutdown line of Daniel Winnik, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. But the Koivu line was on the ice for Colorado's first goal as Anaheim was asleep at the start.
John Mitchell was all by himself on the left side of the net to whack in Duchene's rebound 64 seconds into the game. Mitchell's 10th goal was his first in 12 games.
Colorado will now travel up the coast to Los Angeles for a Thursday night matchup against the Kings at Staples Center.
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