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Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:20 AM
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Ducks Off the Ice by Adam Brady
Back to Cali

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This one just says "awesome."
It's Friday, February 24, 2012, and your Anaheim Ducks have been given the day off.

It's more than a well-deserved one, as the team arrived at LAX at 1:30 a.m. (4:30 if you're into that "still on East Coast time" thing) on the heels of a successful marathon road trip. Anaheim flew home with 12 of 16 points in their carry-ons, going 5-1-2 on this 15-day odyssey and firmly planting themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.

The final triumph came last night in Carolina, a 3-2 shootout win over the Hurricanes that conjured thoughts of the saying, "I'd rather be lucky than good." The Ducks were certainly both in that game, fighting their way into a hard-earned road victory but escaping on a few occasions thanks to one Jonas Hiller.

As remarkable as Hiller has been on this road trip -- heck, since the turn of the new year -- he may have never been better than he was last night. Among his 30 saves on the night were several that were solid, a few more that were spectacular and at least one that was downright ridiculous.

Late in the second period, with Carolina looking to add to a one-goal lead, Hiller scrambled to get back into position after making a save, and actually was facing the net as Drayson Bowman slung a shot into a seemingly open net. Somehow, Hiller managed to knock it down with the glove, "like a shortstop," as Brian Hayward eloquently put it. Take a look:



"I think the shot hit the glove behind my back or something like that," he said. "I'd even have to see it on the replay. It was a little desperation move there."

At the other end of the rink, the Ducks had a ton of chances, but struggled to get much past Justin Peters, playing just his fifth game of the year but coming off his first NHL shutout Monday night vs. Washington. Anaheim finally got a gargantuan power play goal from (who else?) Corey Perry midway through the third to tie it 2-2, the first PPG in the last 18 opportunities.

In fact, the Ducks had scuffled so much on the power play -- including four other missed chances last night -- that Bruce Boudreau had an interesting reaction when they got that one. "Our power play's been so dismal, I think the third one in the third period, I said, 'Decline it.'" Boudreau said. "And Perry looked at me as if I had two heads and then went out and scored because I think he was (ticked) at me."

That tying goal gave way to a scoreless overtime and a shootout in which Saku Koivu was the only one to convert, undressing Peters with a number of deke moves before sending it home. (Here's a look at the whole shootout.)

Hiller looked incredibly confident in the shootout, easily stoning Brandon Sutter and Jeff Skinner, and getting a little help from the post on Eric Staal's bid.

"I kind of saw we weren't playing our best game tonight and the guys looked a little tired," Hiller said. "That was not too surprising after such a long trip. (Carolina) had a couple of really good chances - odd-man rushes and two-on-ones - and I just didn't want to get scored on."

So he didn't.

And as well as all the Ducks played in this road trip, none were better than Hiller, who gave up just 13 goals in the eight games, and seemed to be at his best when Anaheim needed him most.

The Ducks were able to get to 62 points, four behind the 66 owned by Dallas in the eighth spot in the West. Although, that's a total held by LA and Calgary as well, after the Flames earned one by going to a shootout with Phoenix last night. It's a heck of a position for the Ducks to be in after they were 10 back going into that long-ago first game on this trip -- two weeks ago in Detroit.

But as Boudreau reiterated just before heading to the airport in Raleigh-Durham, they could have been even better. 

"We could have won all eight, you know?" he said. "We outplayed Detroit, we outplayed New Jersey, and I think we outplayed Tampa (Wednesday) night. I was really hoping we could reach 60 points and still be in the hunt. To get more than that was really great."

Great is an understatement, and now the Ducks have today to relish it, then it's back to work tomorrow to get ready for Chicago at Honda Center (hat night and a 4:05 start!) on Sunday. That's the first of three games in four nights (yikes) -- home Sunday vs. the Hawks, in Colorado Monday and home to Buffalo on Wednesday.

So yeah, they've earned a day off today.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48

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