The Anaheim Ducks are off to the best start in 14 years. The New York Islanders may wish they could start the season over.
The unbeaten Ducks look for their fourth straight win Wednesday when they face off against the winless New York Islanders at the Honda Center in the only regular-season meeting between the teams.
Anaheim (3-0-0) has three losses and a tie in its last four games against New York (0-3-0).
Teemu Selanne appears to be continuing the resurgence he enjoyed last season after returning to Southern California. Last season, the 1993 Calder Trophy winner, had 40 goals and 50 assists—his finest season since 1998-1999 when he led Anaheim with 47 goals and 107 points.
So far, Selanne leads the Ducks with a goal and four assists. He assisted on both of Chris Kunitz’s power-play goals Sunday in a 2-0 win over St. Louis.
“Most of our goals have been on power plays so far, but that’s what happens when you start having good chemistry and guys are working the puck around,” Kunitz said about playing on a line with Selanne and Andy McDonald. “(They’re) fast, skilled players. They like to play give-and-go with the puck and they aren’t greedy players.”
With 1,046 career points, Selanne needs one point to move past Hall of Famer Henri Richard into 59th place on the all-time list. He’s failed to record a point in three games against the Islanders dating back to Oct. 20, 2001.
Goaltenders Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov also are big reasons behind the Ducks’ quick start. Giguere, the 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, has stopped 75 of 78 shots for a .962 save percentage—just behind Bryzgalov’s .971 mark.
“I don’t compete against Bryz. He’s my teammate,” Giguere said. “I hope when Bryz plays, he has success. I worry about my game and the effort that I bring into the rink every day.”
The Islanders continued the worst start in the franchise’s 35-year history Tuesday with a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles. Richard Park and Alexei Yashin scored first-period goals, but goaltender Rick DiPietro struggled again.
“We did it to ourselves,” said Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt. “We have to be more disciplined out there. We keep talking about it, but I think we refuse to get it into our heads and do it.
“We’re not going to get this thing fixed until we stop taking these selfish penalties that cost us games. You’ve got to move your feet in this game. It’s a speed game now. It’s not old-time hockey where you clutch and grab. They’re calling that stuff now.”
New York has allowed six power-play goals, tying it with Phoenix for second in the league. Nashville has given up seven in just two games.
Overall, the Isles have given up 12 goals, tying them with defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina for the most in the Eastern Conference.
Backup Mike Dunham may get his first start of the season. He stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief of DiPietro in a 6-3 season-opening loss on Thursday. Dunham has just four wins and a 2.63 goals-against average in 15 career starts against Anaheim.