Avalanche goalie Giguere shuts out Penguins
Jean-Sebastien Giguere knows when Monday night turned against the Penguins.
The first period.
“That's huge,” Giguere, Colorado's goalie, said of an opening 20 minutes over which he turned aside 11 shots, including seven on four Penguins' power plays.
“Our game plan was not to be in the (penalty) box all night, but it was huge. Our guys sacrificed themselves.”
The Avalanche defeated the Penguins, 1-0, at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins attempted 72 shots. But 22 attempts were blocked 16 were missed.
Giguere turned aside 34 for his 38th career shutout.
“We had a number of opportunities,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said after his eight-game point streak ended.
Five of Crosby's 13 attempted shots were blocked.
Center Evgeni Malkin also had five attempts blocked. He attempted 15 shots. Malkin had carried a six-game scoring streak into this contest.
The Penguins, who went 0 for 7 on the power play, were blanked at Consol Energy Center for the first time in a regular-season game played by Crosby.
Coincidentally, 87 regular-season games had passed since the Penguins were last blanked — Feb. 1, 2012, a 1-0 loss at Toronto.
“I guess there is a first time for everything,” Giguere said. “When you play against those guys, you have to be ready because they throw a lot of stuff at you.”
Whatever Patrick Roy has thrown at the Avalanche has worked wonderfully.
Roy, arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, won the Stanley Cup four times as a player. Two of those triumphs came with the Avalanche, which hired him to run its bench after finishing last season with the NHL's second-lowest point total.
Colorado (8-1-0, 16 points) is led by four former top-three draft picks, including left winger and captain Gabriel Landenskog, who scored the Avalanche's only goal Monday night.
Another of Colorado's nucleus players, center Matt Duchene, said he hoped a win over the Penguins, a perennial Cup favorite, would change the perception of the Avalanche.
“(The Penguins have) been one of the premier teams in the NHL,” Duchene said. “I think if we can come out and have a win, everyone's going to sit back and say, ‘Whoa, the Avs are for real.' ”
Colorado is the first team to best the Penguins (7-2-0, 14 points) at home and hold Crosby without a point — and all of that seemed to impress Roy.
“For us, every win is important, and this one is special,” Roy said. “It's not very often you can win in Pittsburgh and give up seven power plays.”
Roy said a victory like this one requires “your goalie to be your best player.”
Giguere, whose one playoff MVP (2003) is two shy of Roy's record total, joked that his best days are indeed behind him.
“Believe me, they are,” he said. “But I still have some gas in the tank.”
Penguins players were not terribly dissatisfied with their performance against Colorado.
Several expressed optimism about sticking with the game plan even though the combination of Giguere and the Avalanche's shooting-lane congestion could have led to individual attempts to play the role of hero.
“If we play like we did, I'm confident we will get a better result the next game,” left winger Jussi Jokinen said.
The next game is a playoff rematch with the New York Islanders on Friday night at home.
It is possible that two of three injured offensive pieces — defenseman Kris Letang and right winger Beau Bennett, both with lower-body injuries — could play.
It is unlikely that whomever is between the pipes for the Islanders will match the level of play from Giguere, a teammate of Bylsma's on the 2003 Anaheim squad that lost a Game 7 at New Jersey in the Cup Final.
“Sometimes you tip your cap to the goalie,” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “He was great.”
Added Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who took a hard-luck first loss after stopping 13 of 14 shots: “We don't see (shutout losses) too much.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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