ANAHEIM – One game after recording one of the quieter shutouts of his career, Jonas Hiller had one that rang very loudly against the rival Sharks.
In front of a Honda Center crowd of 16,172, Hiller stopped all 37 San Jose shots on the way to a huge 1-0 victory over Anaheim’s division rival. It was the fifth win in the last six for the Ducks, which included Hiller’s shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets here two nights prior.
That was a night when the Ducks didn’t necessarily need Hiller’s artistry, as they scored six goals on the Jackets. Tonight, they needed every one of Hiller’s glove, stick and pad saves, as Bobby Ryan’s second period goal was the extent of the scoring for either team.
"We didn’t score as many goals as the last one and I absolutely did not want to get scored on," Hiller sad. "It worked out well again. I think everybody feels good out there and so do I. We had a great team effort. It was just a 1-0 game, but we created lots of chances and played a lot in their zone, especially in the third."
Said Ryan, "He made crucial saves, especially at the end of the second when they could have changed the entire momentum of the game. Like we’ve all said so many times, he’s a rock back there for us. We certainly appreciate it. Another shutout is well deserving for him."
The Ducks and Sharks battled through a scoreless tie until 5 1/2 minutes remained in the second, when Ryan moved with the puck from left to right in the low slot and waited to squeeze a wrist shot through a Joffrey Lupul screen. A fired-up Ryan shouted in celebration before being mobbed by teammates.
"Their defenseman made a good play and followed me," Ryan said. "I kept trying to wait for him to stop and he never did. So finally I hit the brakes. There was so much traffic in front, Lupul and McMillan were creating a stir, so I just tried to put it through the traffic."
Ryan's goal was his third in the last two games, coming off a slump where he only scored once in 10 contests. "They haven’t found holes in the past month," he said. "I’m glad they are finding them right now and I’ll try to continue to do it."
While Ryan’s goal provided the only scoring of the first two periods, the real Ducks star was Hiller, who turned away all 27 San Jose shots, including a few during some dangerous moments in front of the net. With Hiller’s help, the Ducks were able to kill off two Sharks power plays in the second.
"It was great," Hiller said of the penalty kill. "Especially in the second, they made a difference there. The first one they almost played two minutes in our zone. We found a way to not get scored on."
San Jose emptied the net in the final minute, but didn’t get off a shot, as Todd Marchant banked the puck off the wall and into the San Jose end with seconds remaining, as the home crowd rose to its feet and roared its approval.
Over the last five games, Hiller has compiled a .969 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average, and he’s currently riding a scoreless streak of just under 155 minutes. His brilliance comes a couple of days before the NHL picks players for the January 30 All-Star Game.
Asked by a rinkside reporter immediately after being named the No. 1 star of the game about being named an All-Star for the first time, Hiller said, “"It would be a big honor and something I've always dreamed of. I just try to get it done on the ice and hope someone sees it."
Hiller leads the league in appearances (39) and saves (1156), while ranking tied for second in wins (21), third in save percentage (.929) and fourth in shutouts (4).
Anaheim has gone 4-1-0 thus far in the six-game homestand, set to conclude this Wednesday evening (Jan. 12) vs. St. Louis.
"The games have been emotional," said coach Randy Carlyle. "These are hard-fought games. There is not a lot of space on the ice. You have to compete for your space. Situations we’ve been presented with, we’ve shown a lot of battle."
The Ducks have won five of their last six games (5-1-0) and have gone 10-5-1 overall in the last 16 contests.
The last time the Ducks had consecutive shutouts was Dec. 8-15, 2002, when J.S. Giguere had three straight. The Ducks have had consecutive shutouts four times in franchise history.
Anaheim has gone 4-1-0 thus far in the six-game homestand, set to conclude this Wednesday evening (Jan. 12) vs. St. Louis. The club is 8-3-0 at Honda Center over the last 11 contests and is 15-7-1 at HOME this season, earning 31 of a possible 46 standings points.
Tonight marks the first time in Jonas Hiller’s career that he has recorded consecutive shutouts. The last time the Ducks had consecutive shutouts was Dec. 8-15 2002, when J.S. Giguere had three-straight. Giguere blanked Nashville (3-0 on Dec. 8), Washington (3-0 on Dec. 11) and Pittsburgh (5-0 on Dec. 15).
Tonight’s 1-0 win over San Jose marks the fourth time total in franchise history that the club has posted consecutive shutouts. In addition to the three-straight shutouts from Dec. 8-15, 2002, the team also accomplished the feat on Mar. 11 and 13, 2001 (NSH and WSH, both Giguere), and Dec. 11 and 13, 1998 (vs. WSH and LA, both Guy Hebert).
Hiller’s scoreless streak currently stands at 154:50 minutes. The last goal he allowed was at 3:56 of the second period (Patric Hornqvist) on Jan. 5 vs. NSH (Hiller played 58:46 in that game because he was pulled for extra attacker). Since that goal, Hiller has stopped 80 consecutive shots.
Over the last five games, Hiller has compiled a .969 SV% (189-of-195) and 1.00 GAA (6 GA/359 MIN). Hiller’s four shutouts on the season (10 career) rank tied for fourth in the NHL.
Bobby Ryan has scored three goals (3-0=3) in the last two games. He also has 5-3=8 points in his last 13 games, 11-3=14 in 24 and 17-9=26 in 37.
Toni Lydman has points in four of the last five games (0-5=5). He also has 0-6=6 in the last 7 games and 0-9=9 points in the last 14 games.
Lubomir Visnovsky has three assists in his last two games (0-3=3). He has 2-3=5 points in the last five games, 3-4=7 points in his last 10 and 4-9=13 in his last 15.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Huge victory for the Ducks as Hiller gets his fourth shutout and his second straight.
19:55 - Marchant sends it off the wall into the San Jose end as the clock ticks down and this one ... is ... over.
19:25 - Niemi to the bench.
19:10 - Niemi tries to head off, but the puck is back in his end.
18:20 - Ryan, playing his rear off tonight, sends a shot across the crease from a bad angle.
17:39 - Hiller takes a Marleau pass in the gut with Setoguchi breathing down his neck.
15:00 - Five minutes left and it's gut check time.
13:45 - Ryan goes to a knee to slap a one-timer from the circle, off the outside of the post.
13:04 - Fowler a nice cross-ice feed to Perry, whose shot is snagged by Niemi. Perry not happy.
12:06 - SJS Penalty - Joe Thornton, 2 min. cross checking. Thornton hits Koivu.
Two years ago at a charity event, Teemu Selanne asked my non-pregnant girlfriend when she was due (she was holding a coat over her stomach and drinking water while everyone else was boozing). Last night at Scott Niedermayer's retirement dinner, he saw her for the first time since that night (and only the second time ever) AND REMEMBERED HER. She was smitten all over again. Is it any wonder everyone loves that guy?
10:10 - Koivu just denied off a Selanne pass.
9:49 - SJS Penalty - Jamal Myers, 2 min. tripping. Myers gets the stick into Sbisa's skate blade and takes him down in the Anaheim end.
9:20 - Hiller without his stick for awhile, but luckily San Jose doesn't shoot at him before the pucks' cleared and he regains it.
7:40 - Perry with a couple of chances, firing wide on both.
6:00 - Selanne knocked down in the corner by Wallin. Crowd wants a penalty, but doesn't get one.
4:53 - Gargantuan kill for Anaheim.
4:20 - Hiller stops a Clowe one-timer from the slot.
2:53 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. holding. Visnovsky holds Thornton in the corner. Or, at least that's what the official believed.
1:50 - Ducks escape more mess in front of the net.
0:00 - Here we go in what promises to be an epic third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A Ryan goal and more Hiller magnificence put the Ducks up 1-0.
19:50 - Hiller again escapes unscathed on what looked like a sure goal.
19:10 - Hiller is on his side and still manages to survive a couple of San Jose attempts.
17:10 - Long discussion involving all four officials right now, but not sure why. Something is being explained by the referee to Selanne and Boyle.
16:01 - Ducks get on a 2-on-1 rush, with Lapierre not seeing a passing lane, so he fires the shot off Niemi.
14:29 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Ryan moves from left to right with the puck in front of the net and and shows a ton of patience, waiting to fire a shot until the right time. He squeezes it between a Lupul screen and Niemi for the goal. Ryan looks positively thrilled as his teammates mob him, his third goal in the last two games and 18th on the season. Reader Jillian points out that she sees "a traffic cone next to the two tennis balls." Indeed there is, a guy sitting next to the couple in a flourescent orange sweatshirt that clashes with their flourescent yellow-green.
10:56 - Hiller reaches up to snag a Marleau shot with the mitt.
9:00 - Lydman misses Clowe with a hip check, but his shot goes wide.
Ryan Getzlaf in the press box again tonight. During the intermission, he was touching his forehead cut and Loud Guy yelled, "Stop picking at it, Getz!" Kinda funny.
6:36 - ANA Penalty - Jason Blake, 2 min. hooking. Blake gets Demers behind the Sharks net.
3:50 - Lupul shot from a bad angle kick saved by Niemi.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Heck of a battle in the first finishes scoreless, thanks in great part to Hiller's 12 stops.
19:30 - Ducks spend a ton of time behind the SJ net.
15:45 - Hiller doesn't see a Couture shot through a crowd and gets bailed out by the post.
13:00 - Slap shot by Selanne is stopped by Niemi with the stick, but gets behind him temporarily. He quickly covers before Blake swarms in and falls on him. Close one.
Video board shows an older guy in the stands with a Ducks jersey. On back it says:
13:36 - Kick save Hiller, followed by glove save Hiller. That's 10 San Jose shots so far to Anaheim's seven.
12:50 - Mysterious red stain on the ice in front of the Sharks bench. Looks like Gatorade.
10:15 - Another great stop from Hiller, who gloves a point blank redirect from Couture. Whoa.
9:26 - Hiller holds his ground during some mayhem in front.
6:45 - Hiller a nice kick save on Marleau. We'll need him tonight.
5:57 - Blake tries to sneak in a wraparound, but Niemi is ready.
4:05 - Thornton is wide open in front of Hiller after a nice feed from Marleau and Hiller make a huge save off the glove.
1:38 - Perry steals the puck and charges down with Vlasic pressuring, and all he can get off is a soft backhand.
1:07 - Slap shot from Visnovsky gets deflected and flies all the way up into the upper level. Fairly rare.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center. Should be a good one.
5:07 p.m. - Another nice job on the anthem from Brad Haynes. You can feel the buzz in the building.
Tons of Sharks fans in here tonight, including all of sections 408 and 409. Getting a "Ducks suck" chant going right now, but it's hard to see them chanting because of the glare from my Stanley Cup ring. If only we could settle things in a playoff series one of these days. Wait, that already happened. Starters in bold/italics.