Perry's hat trick buries Avalanche
Corey Perry turned in a performance worthy of an all-star. So did Curtis McElhinney, even if Anaheim's backup goalie was simply filling in for one.
Perry scored three goals and McElhinney stopped 25 shots for his second NHL shutout, leading the Ducks to a 3-0 win over the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
No three-goal games in his first five seasons, Perry now has two in a nearly two-month span. He completed his hat trick by scoring an empty-net goal with 17.3 seconds remaining on a play set up when Todd Marchant delivered the puck to him.
"Unselfish," Perry said. "That's how we're continuing our success, unselfish play."
Perry, fresh off his second all-star appearance, became the first Ducks player to score all three of his team's goals in a win. There were instances when a player scored all three in a game — Paul Kariya (1997), Teemu Selanne (1997) and Bobby Ryan (2009) — but not in a victory.
"We keep pushing, and guys are all getting together," said Perry, who has 28 goals and 28 assists in 54 games this season.
McElhinney bottled up the high-scoring Avalanche while filling in for all-star Jonas Hiller, who was scratched due to fatigue and feeling lightheaded.
There was hardly a letdown as McElhinney became the latest backup to blank the Avs.
"The goaltending on our hockey club has been one of our strongest suits," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Today is another example of proving that."
The goaltending wasn't the issue for the Avalanche as Peter Budaj was solid in stopping 26 shots.
However, Colorado's once scorching offensive attack suddenly went cold, generating few quality chances against McElhinney.
Adam Foote had Colorado's best opportunity late while McElhinney was out of position. But the goalie managed to slide over and got a toe on the puck to deflect it and keep the Avalanche off the board.
That's the way things went for Colorado.
"We need production, there's no question," said Avalanche coach Joe Sacco, whose team has dropped three straight. "We need production from our best players. The guys that eat up the minutes, they need to produce.
"You get zero goals, it's going to be difficult to win."
A four-game road swing may be just what the Avalanche need to break them out of their doldrums.
The return of Peter Forsberg might help, as well. But that situation is still unsettled.
The 2003 NHL MVP has been feeling better about his progress on the ice as he considers a return to the Avalanche. He skated Saturday before the game and could soon make a decision on his future.
The Avalanche will practice Sunday before heading out on their road excursion. Should the 37-year-old Forsberg not sign before the team leaves, Forsberg would be on his own if he wanted to join the squad in Phoenix, Minnesota, Columbus or Nashville.
"I think he looks better and better each time he steps on the ice," Sacco said. "I think his conditioning is getting better. Now it's up to Peter. It depends how his foot feels and where he's at."
In the second period, McElhinney may have turned in his best work, stopping Brandon Yip's breakaway attempt with his left leg, and turning aside Matt Duchene's wrist shot from in close with his six-foot-two frame.
Those were the kinds of saves he needed to make to preserve the shutout. McElhinney's only other shutout was Nov. 10 against the New York Islanders when he stopped 27 shots.
"I feel good right now. I feel comfortable," said McElhinney, who once played down the road at Colorado College.
Colorado forward David Jones returned to the lineup after missing a game with a shoulder injury, but Ryan O'Reilly missed his seventh straight since he hurt his shoulder sliding headfirst into the boards Jan. 14 at Minnesota.
The Ducks might soon have captain Ryan Getzlaf back in the lineup. He has missed 14 games with facial fractures, the result of being struck in the face with a puck on Dec. 28 at Phoenix. He is expected to return sometime during the Ducks' swing through Western Canada.