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Kunitz, Giguere help Ducks edge Kings in season opener

Oct 7, 2006 - 5:14 AM ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Chris Kunitz scored only two game-winning goals in 69 games in 2005-06. He's already halfway there after one contest this season.

Kunitz tallied midway through the third period and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 41 saves as the Anaheim Ducks skated to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for the Pacific Division rivals.

While on the power play, Kunitz took a pass from defenseman Scott Niedermayer and snapped a shot past goaltender Dan Cloutier nine minutes into the third period, giving the Ducks a 4-2 lead.

"(The win) feels good," Kunitz said. "We kind of came out a little soft and not as well as we wanted, but we got the momentum going."

Giguere yielded a power-play goal by blue-liner Lubomir Visnovsky with just over five minutes to go in the third but held on for the win. The 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy winner did his best work in the opening session, stopping all 22 shots he faced.

"I'm real happy with the way I came out," Giguere said. "I wanted to have a strong start to the season, to show that the goaltenders are ready, whether it's me or Bryz (Ilya Bryzgalov). I don't think that anybody should worry about what the goaltenders are doing."

Getting the start despite giving way to Bryzgalov last postseason, Giguere appeared to injure his right leg with less than nine minutes remaining in the third. But he just suffered a cramp and remained in the game.

"It was cramped," Giguere said of his right leg. "I don't feel like I'm dehydrated. This was just out of nowhere, really. The whole leg was cramping up. It went away and it feels better right now. I'm going to get a massage and hydrate again. It's the story of my life."

Corey Perry, Andy McDonald and Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, while Teemu Selanne recorded a pair of assists.

"Tonight, my energy level wasn't there," Selanne said. "I felt sluggish and heavy the past few days. It was one of those games where you have to work a bit harder."

Anze Kopitar, the 11th overall selection in the 2005 draft, scored twice in his NHL debut for the Kings, who went 1-for-7 on the power play.

Kopitar forged a 1-1 tie at 9:14 of the second period, skating around defenseman Chris Pronger in the right circle on his way to the net and firing the puck past Giguere for his first career tally.

"(Kopitar) played pretty good for us tonight, and that was a great move on that first goal, it was a highlight reel-type goal," Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford said. "It's nice that we've got a guy that can do those sorts of things. He's got the potential to be a great player."

Pronger, the 2000 Norris and Hart Trophy winner who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on July 3, logged just under 29 minutes of ice time and was on the ice for two goals against in his first game with the Ducks.

"It was a back-and-forth game tonight," Pronger said. "We didn't play really well. It wasn't our best effort. The mark of a good team is being able to win even without your best effort."

Cloutier, who finished with 28 saves, was impressed with the Ducks.

"I think we played well, but I've got to give this Ducks team a lot of credit," he said. "They're one of the best teams in the league for a reason, and we came in here and we hung with them for most of the game. But we would've liked to have had a better third period."

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