SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for Jean-Sebastien Giguere. His coach and teammates would disagree.
In a game that left him hooked up to intravenous fluids, Giguere helped the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim enter the All-Star break on a high note, stopping 32 shots in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Adam Oates recorded a goal and an assist for Anaheim, which entered the break with its seventh win in 10 games (7-0-2-1). It is ninth in the Western Conference, a point behind Chicago and Colorado.
“You almost want to keep playing hockey, but the break’s nice for everybody,” center Steve Rucchin said. “When we come back, we have to make sure we stay focused to the things that have given us success of late.”
One of them is Giguere, who won his third straight start, stopping nine shots in the first period, all 17 he faced in the second and six in the third. He also helped kill all seven of San Jose’s power plays, overcoming dehydration.
“You’ve got to tip your hat when a goalie comes in and gets the job done like that,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “We spent a lot of time at their end, and he ended up with cramps at the end of the game because he had been on his toes for so long.”
Despite forcing the trainer to visit Giguere twice in the third period, the Sharks had their winning streak snapped at three games. They are tied for 10th in the West.
“We can’t waste any time sitting around and losing to all these other teams,” Sharks center Patrick Marleau said. “Other teams are winning ahead of us and we have to keep pace and gain on them somehow. We’ve got to do that by winning games.”
The Sharks had won the first two meetings between the teams this season, but Anaheim was in control from the start as Oates scored 61 seconds into the game, beating Evgeni Nabokov with a high snap shot from a bad angle on the left side.
Marleau tied it 7:46 into the first period, but Jason Krog gave the Ducks the lead for good just 67 seconds later, finishing a 2-on-1 by putting a slap shot past Nabokov from the right faceoff circle.
Petr Sykora added the first of Anaheim’s two power-play goals for a 3-1 lead with 2:57 left in the period. The Ducks went 2-for-3 with the man advantage while having a perfect night killing penalties.
“Special teams are very important,” Oates said. “They had a lot of power plays against us, too, and we held the fort pretty good.”
Owen Nolan scored with 68 seconds left in the first period to make it 3-2, but that’s as close as the Sharks would get.
Rucchin scored the decisive goal on the power play 2:27 into the second, taking Sykora’s blind feed off the skate of a defenseman behind the net and putting the puck past a helpless Nabokov, who was facing the wrong direction.
Giguere was at his best in the second, when his team was outshot, 17-4. He remained solid in the third, keeping the Sharks off the board after Nolan got them within one with 17:03 remaining to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games.
“The difference in the game was basically their goalie,” Wilson said. “He was outstanding.”
In the closing moments, Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan fought off a check on a drive to the net but was forced wide by Giguere, who appeared to catch his right leg on the right goalpost as he followed Hannan.
After a visit from the trainer, Giguere remained in the game. He held his ground as San Jose sustained pressure in the final minute, then fell to his back with cramps, prompting another visit from the trainer.
“He was cramping up, dehydrated,” Ducks coach Mike Babcock said. “Maybe traveling today was a little tougher for him.”