This is a rare experience for the Mighty Ducks: a pleasant airplane ride home from a road trip.
A 2-1 victory over Vancouver on Saturday was finally put away after goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made a handful of game-saving saves. A stress-free charter flight awaited, with center Sergei Fedorov’s legacy as the first Russian-born player to score 1,000 points secured. It was a moment to relax in a season that has caused more than a few worry lines.
“Now if I can just win at cards on the way home, then it will be perfect,” said Giguere, who stopped 34 of 35 shots.
Meanwhile, a full house at General Motors Place was treated to history.
Fedorov reached his milestone in the second period, then started on the second 1,000 by assisting on Petr Schastlivy’s game-winning goal 12 minutes 50 seconds into the third period. Fedorov centered the puck from the right corner and Schastlivy got off a point-blank shot that goalie Johan Hedberg stopped. But Schastlivy out-muscled a Canuck defenseman and shoved the puck into the net.
Of the two assists, Fedorov had a preference.
The 1,000 points was nice, but, “the other assist got us the two points,” Fedorov said. “That is what we need.”
The Ducks got the two -- leaving them nine points out of a playoff spot -- by matching the beefy Canucks as they won for only the fourth time in their last 26 road games.
Duck defensemen battled Todd Bertuzzi to a standoff. “Playing him is like riding a horse out there,” defenseman Kurt Sauer said.
Giguere was brilliant, especially on a bang-bang save to deny Marek Malik shortly after Schastlivy gave the Ducks the lead with his first goal since being acquired from Ottawa last week.
Fedorov stood out, as has been the case more often in the last month.
“It was tough on him coming this season,” Giguere said. “He had to learn new players. He had to get the system down. But since he’s done that, he has been the best player on the ice for us almost every night.”
Fedorov could lay claim to being the best Russian player in NHL history but shunned that opportunity, praising other Russian players, especially Toronto’s Alexander Mogilny, who had been ahead of Fedorov on points until getting injured 15 games into the season.
“I have to mention Alex’s name,” Fedorov said. “He is my friend. He is a great player.”
But Fedorov got to the milestone first.
Fedorov beat Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin on a faceoff, getting the puck back quickly to Carney, who caught Hedberg flat-footed with a shot that gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead 3:00 into the second period.
“It really hasn’t sunk in,” Fedorov said. “I haven’t allowed myself to think about it. I got a point last night [against Calgary], but we lost.”
The Ducks endured a bruising Canuck team. Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund and company battered Duck players throughout but could not beat them into submission.
The Canucks got even when Tyler Bouck beat defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski to the puck behind the Duck net. He kicked it out to Artem Chubarov, who chipped in a shot for a 1-1 tie at 6:54 of the third period.
But in the final minute, Giguere stopped two point-blank tries by Chubarov and Matt Cooke’s backhand try at the crease.
“When you play Vancouver, there is a lot of big guys bumping you in front of the net,” Giguere said. “You struggle to look through guys to see the puck.
“I felt great out there. When there is no time to think, just play, it’s better. I felt great out there, probably the best I have felt this season.”
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The Mighty Ducks’ Sergei Fedorov became the 67th player in NHL history to top the 1,000-career-point mark, when he had two assists in Saturday’s game at Vancouver. The active NHL players in the 1,000-point club, with their current team and their rank on the all-time list:
*--* Player, Team G A Pts 2. Mark Messier, NYR 690 1,181 1,871 4. Ron Francis, Car 543 1,239 1,782 6. Steve Yzerman, Det 676 1,029 1,705 7. Mario Lemieux, Pit 683 1,018 1,701 14. Adam Oates, Edm 339 1,070 1,409 17. Joe Sakic, Col 532 845 1,377 18. Brett Hull, Det 736 636 1,372 20. Luc Robitaille, Kings 645 710 1,355 25. Dave Andreychuk, TB 624 680 1,304 26. Jaromir Jagr, NYR 526 764 1,290 28. Al MacInnis, StL 340 934 1,274 30. Pierre Turgeon, Dal 487 767 1,254 39. Vincent Damphousse, SJ 426 765 1,191 40. Mark Recchi, Phi 451 729 1,180 43. Brendan Shanahan, Det 551 588 1,139 47. Jeremy Roenick, Phi 474 643 1,117 50. Mike Modano, Dal 453 640 1,093 52. Mats Sundin, Tor 454 615 1,069 58. Joe Nieuwendyk, Tor 523 519 1,042 67. Sergei Fedorov, Ducks 419 582 1,001