Clinching a playoff spot will have to wait as the Avalanche upend the Ducks, 4-1.
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS West
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist, and the NHL-worst
Colorado Avalanche prevented Anaheim from clinching a playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over the Ducks on Wednesday night.
Two days after ripping his teammates' work ethic and focus, Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 21 saves in his first win in nearly two months for Colorado, which snapped a five-game skid.
The Avs responded to their veteran goalie's criticism with their most impressive victory in a month, scoring three goals in the second period of just their third road win all season to snap a 14-game winless streak away from Denver.
Teemu Selanne scored his 674th career goal for the weary Pacific Division leaders, who had won five of seven. Anaheim could have finalized its postseason plans, but Jonas Hiller stopped just 12 of 16 shots behind a porous Ducks defense.
John Mitchell scored 64 seconds into the first period and captain Gabriel Landeskog added a short-handed goal for the Avalanche, who hadn't scored more than two goals in any of their last seven games. Jamie McGinn also scored.
Giguere, who backstopped Anaheim to the Stanley Cup in 2007, got his first win in nine appearances since Feb. 14 -- also the date of Colorado's last road win.
The veteran teed off on his teammates after the Avalanche's listless 3-1 home loss to Calgary on Monday, saying some Avs were more concerned about their postseason vacation in Las Vegas than in finishing this lost season impressively. Coach Joe Sacco, an original member of the Mighty Ducks, didn't publicly disagree with Giguere's comments, and Colorado came back with a comprehensive thrashing of an elite opponent.
Colorado center Paul Stastny also returned from an eight-game absence with a persistent foot injury.
Viktor Fasth replaced Hiller for the scoreless third period for Anaheim (27-9-5), which still is in a prime position to claim the second seed in the Western Conference and its second Pacific Division title in 20 years of existence. The Ducks have a double-digit lead on Los Angeles and San Jose, although both have games in hand.
But the Ducks were mostly lethargic while finishing a five-game homestand despite the return of captain Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the last three games with an apparent injury to his right leg. Defenseman Cam Fowler then left in the second period with an upper-body injury.
After playing 26 games in the past 46 days without any consecutive days off, the Ducks appeared more than ready for a little relief in their brutal lockout-shortened schedule. At least they'll have just one game in the next six days, driving up the I-5 on Saturday night to face the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
The sparse crowd at the Ducks' fifth home game in eight days hadn't even settled in its seats before Mitchell scored his 10th goal from close range, ending a nine-game drought.
Landeskog caught Getzlaf napping during an Anaheim power play in the second period, turning the corner on the Ducks captain and pushing a shot past Hiller. Getzlaf slammed his stick into the boards in frustration while Landeskog celebrated his eighth goal of the season.
Duchene then added his 16th goal late in a power play, and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout for his suddenly overmatched club.
Selanne finally got the Ducks going when the 11th-leading goal-scorer in NHL history sped to the net and tipped home Kyle Palmieri's pass, and Anaheim played a few strong minutes before reverting to poor form. Luca Sbisa's giveaway led to McGinn's goal late in the second period.
NOTES: With Getzlaf's return, the Ducks scratched new RW Radek Dvorak, who scored two goals in Monday's win over Edmonton. ... Fowler missed eight games in February with an apparent head injury. ... New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who grew up in Orange County, attended the game in a Ducks jersey.