Giguere's Effort Wasted

Times Staff Writer

This wasn't a bitter cup to drink from, but the Mighty Ducks sipped gingerly anyway.

A 2-1 overtime loss to Colorado in front of 18,007 in the Pepsi Center on Tuesday gained the Ducks an always-precious point on the road. And it did put them atop the Pacific Division. And it was earned by goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere putting on a performance that shows why he has the Conn Smythe Trophy on his mantel.

So, glass half full.

Still, this was the fourth overtime loss for the Ducks, tops in the NHL. And, well, that one-point lead in the division is courtesy of the Kings having played three fewer games. And it came at the expense of Giguere, who played his tail off and deserved better.

So much for half full.

"A point on the road is always a point you want to have," Coach Mike Babcock said. "But how is your team playing and how hungry are they? I think we got way more. I don't think we're scratching the surface of how good we should be."

That became painfully obvious when former Duck Teemu Selanne banged the puck into an open net 3 minutes 11 seconds into overtime.

"J.S. got a huge point for us, but this is going against his win-loss record," team captain Steve Rucchin said. "We need to do a better job and take a little more pride in these situations."

Giguere could take pride in his work. He made 38 saves and has given up only 13 goals in his last six starts, three of which were overtime losses.

He caught a few breaks Tuesday. A Joe Sakic shot went off Giguere's leg and hit the post on a power play early in the second period. Selanne missed an open net moments later, sliding a shot wide.

Selanne got another open-net opportunity in overtime.

"You don't miss two," Giguere said. "Not that kind of guy."

Rob Blake glided down the slot and induced Giguere to the ice. He then made a slick pass to Selanne, who could have waited for cameras to focus before knocking in the puck to give the Avalanche a 6-0-1-1 record in its last eight games.

"[Giguere] did get rewarded," Babcock said. "He got a point for the team. Anyway you look at it, he stole us a point and played real well. He can feel good about that and the team can as well."

And then some.

The Avalanche came out fast and furious, with Giguere having to make a bang-bang save on Sakic 20 seconds into the game. That's the way it went, as the Avalanche had a 27-13 shot advantage through the two periods.

"There were times when he kept us in the game," Vaclav Prospal said. "They had a lot more many shots than we did. We were relying on him. For him to get a loss in his stats is pretty bad for our part.

"The coaches are [angry], the guys are [angry]. It's still a loss. For us, the learning thing should be this is the fourth time that we let an overtime game get away from us."

That it got to overtime was due in part to Prospal.

Giguere carried a shutout, and the Ducks, as long as he could. But he was screened on a blue-line blast by Adam Foote that gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead 14:21 into the third period.

Prospal got the Ducks even 1:36 later. Colorado's Karlis Skrastins turned the puck over behind the net and Petr Sykora sent a no-look pass to Prospal, who buried a quick shot to tie the score.

In the end that was worth another point. And another loss for Giguere.

Said Babcock: "Your goaltender can only give you so many opportunities and he did everything he could tonight."

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