For the past four games, Saku Koivu and the Ducks have been touring Canada on their latest road trip, which started at Rexall Place on the 16th and ended last night at the Bell Centre, formerly known as the Molson Centre. In their travels, the Ducks won three (two in shoot outs) and lost one.
Last night’s game was significant for the Ducks and Koivu in that it was his first appearance in Montreal since the Canadiens chose not to re-sign him after the 2008-2009 season. The Finnish Center was drafted 21st by the Canadiens in the first round of the 1993 NHL draft. He began actually playing for the Canadiens in the 1995 season and spent 13 seasons with them, nine of them as their captain – the only European to captain the Montreal Canadiens to date. Perhaps, though, Koivu is most famous for his battle and feat over Burkitt’s Lymphoma in 2001 which caused him to miss almost the entire 2001-2002 season with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Before leaving Montreal, Koivu (through the Saku Koivu Foundation) raised $8 million for the purchase of a PET scan machine – a high tech piece of equipment for the early detection of cancer which remains at the Montreal General Hospital.
Now in his second year with the Ducks, the alternate Captain is currently 6th on the Ducks in points. He’s played 50 games, scored 11 goals, and had 14 assists so far this season. Last night, however, despite a 90 second standing ovation by the fans at the Bell Centre, Koivu was not at his finest as the Ducks had to go to extra minutes and a shootout to get the W. Once again, the Ducks were outshot 40-26, leaving Hiller little room for mistakes as he stopped 37 shots and all three of the shoot out attempts by the Habs.
The Ducks got on the scoreboard with power play goals by Cam Fowler (assisted by Visnovsky and Selanne) and Corey Perry (assisted by Koivu and Selanne) and a tip-in by Bobby Ryan in the second. Despite his assist, however, Koivu was sitting in the sin bin for both of Max Pacioretty’s power play goals and was called for tripping late in the third, which led to the tying goal for the Habs, when Netminder, Carey Price, was pulled for the extra attacker. In the end, though, Hiller stopped all shootout attempts and Bobby Ryan made his, giving the Ducks their second shootout win in three games.
In their last shoot out victory against former Penguin, Sergei Gonchar, and the Ottawa Senators, Jonas Hiller was forced to stop 39 shots and three shoot out shots in order to earn the Ducks a win in poorly played game which they shouldn’t have won. Outshot by the Sens 40-27, the Ducks’ only goal came on a Top 10 shot from Corey Perry who scored off a backhand shot of Bobby Ryan, while falling to the ice. Ryan was again the game winning shooter for this game.
In their other two Canadian battles, Teemu Selanne tallied his 1300th NHL point against the Edmonton Oilers in a game that saw back-up netminder, Curits McElhinney, land chin first on the back of the skate blade of teammate, Maxim Lapierre. Quick to return after leaving the game for several stitches, McElhinney and the Ducks defeated the Oilers 3-2.
Their only loss in Canada this road trip came against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the 20th (5-2) against the Ducks’ former super star gaolie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Hiller had 32 saves and Gigere 26 in a game best summed up by Coach Carlyle who frustratingly declared, “We played about 12 minutes of hockey tonight.”
The Ducks play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at 4 before taking time off for the All-Star break in a game featuring Ducks’ favorites, Corey Perry and Jonas Hiller.
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Written by KARLY TAMBARA