The Anaheim Ducks are poised to continue their best start in six years going into their longest road stretch of the season.
The Ducks look for a fourth consecutive victory as they head outside California for the first time in two weeks, opening a six-game trip against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Behind third-period goals from Saku Koivu and Sheldon Souray along with 25 saves from rookie Viktor Fasth, Anaheim handed San Jose its first regulation loss, 2-1 on Monday. The Ducks (6-1-1) are off to their best start since opening 12-0-4 during their Stanley Cup-winning season of 2006-07.
"We're a work in progress," said Souray, who scored the winner for his second goal in as many games. "We want to get better and keep earning respect. Keep climbing and see where it goes."
Where Anaheim goes next is to the Midwest for five games following this contest. The Ducks' only road game in their past six was a shootout loss to the Sharks last Tuesday. They're 2-0-1 away from home in 2013 but went 0-1-1 at Colorado last season.
Fasth and Jonas Hiller are both likely to see action on the trip. Fasth has a 1.30 goals-against average while becoming the first netminder in franchise history to win his first three NHL starts. Hiller made a league-high 73 starts last season but has struggled this year, posting a 3.54 GAA which is among the league's worst.
"When you have two goaltenders that can pretty much give you a chance to win every night, it's a huge plus - especially when you have the schedule we have this year," said Koivu, who is tied for the team lead with nine points.
Hiller and Fasth have benefited from some relatively solid defensive play in front of them, especially while short-handed. During their current 4-0-1 stretch, the Ducks have killed 14 of 16 penalties after their first three opponents went 7 of 16 on the power play.
"We're not a bad team and we're going to get better," coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Anaheim hopes to play better against the Avalanche (4-5-0). The Ducks won six straight and 15 of 17 in the series before going 1-2-1 versus Colorado in 2011-12.
Bobby Ryan had his four-game point streak snapped Monday, but he recorded four goals and three assists against Colorado last season.
Avalanche veteran Milan Hejduk tallied three goals with an assist versus Anaheim last season. He scored his first of the season Monday in a 3-2 loss to Dallas that dropped Colorado to 3-1-0 at home.
Hejduk, who turns 37 next week, became the first player to appear in 1,000 games with the Avalanche.
"It's kind of a little sour taste (with the loss)," he said. "But it's still good to get 1,000 games."
P.A. Parenteau scored his team-leading seventh goal and fourth in three games as the Avalanche overcame a 2-0 deficit before allowing a late third-period goal.
"We always try to fight every game," said Colorado's Semyon Varlamov, who has a 3.02 GAA while losing four of five. "We never give up and we look forward to the next game."
Varlamov is 2-0-1 with a 1.61 GAA in three home starts versus Anaheim.
Backup and former Duck Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who allowed three goals but won his only 2013 start, is 2-1-0 with a 2.35 GAA against Anaheim since it traded him to Toronto in January 2010.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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