ANAHEIM – While the Ducks are grateful to have the stability of Jonas Hiller back in their net, the Sharks have got to feel like they’ve seen just about enough of him.
Hiller stopped all 31 Sharks shots to help the Ducks earn a big win in their home opener before a raucous sellout crowd of 17,243 at Honda Center. Hiller is 4-0-0 in his last five starts against San Jose and was outstanding in a six-game playoff series win over the Sharks three seasons ago.
"I felt comfortable out there," Hiller said of his 12th career shutout. "It was a really good game the whole team played. It’s definitely fun, with the crowd and everybody. It gets me excited."
Hiller, who missed most of the second half of last season with vertigo symptoms, has saved the last 45 of 46 shots, dating back to a victory last Saturday over the Rangers in Stockholm.
"I want to make a statement every night, no matter what happened last year," Hiller said. "It’s always nice to get these kinds of games and feel good out there. Goaltending is a lot about confidence and it’s easier to play well if you start the season with these kinds of games. I’m definitely happy with the way it went. I also worked really hard to be where I’m at right now."
Thanks in part to Hiller and a stingy Ducks defense, all Anaheim would need tonight was the lone goal of the game by rookie Maxime Macenauer in the first period, his first as an NHLer.
The Ducks got off to a slow start in the first, not getting off a shot until a try by Macenauer almost 11 minutes into it. His broke through with 6:01 left in the first, a payoff for the work of the entire fourth line. Brandon McMillan dumped the puck in the right corner, where George Parros pounced on it and sent it in front of the net for Macenauer to chip it top shelf.
"I like playing with those two guys," Parros said. "They are small, fast and can chase down pucks. We are clicking, so hopefully we can keep it going."
The Ducks dominated most of the second and were denied on several scoring chances by goalie Thomas Greiss, starting his second game in place of injured Antti Niemi. Ryan Getzlaf rang the post twice in the period, notably when he took in a great Corey Perry feed and sent a backhander off the crossbar.
"That was probably one of the best periods I’ve seen from this team so far," said Hiller, who helped the Ducks improve to 2-1-0 on the season, while the Sharks dropped to 1-1-0.
"You don’t have a chance in the NHL without solid goaltending," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Jonas tonight provided a little bit more than solid. His ailments are something of the past. Now, we just have to maintain keeping him fresh and give him an opportunity to be able to play night in and night out."
Anaheim is back at it Sunday evening against the Blues, which will be Corey Perry Night at Honda Center.
Winger Jason Blake suffered a laceration of his forearm near the left wrist and received a suture, according to Carlyle. There is no word yet on the severity of the injury.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks win a big one, 1-0.
19:55 - Ryan misses the open net from right wing with 5 seconds left, but it won't matter.
19:00 - SJ net empty.
18:42 - Timeout San Jose with 1:18 left. Hiller stays in his net throughout the break.
18:40 - Smith-Pelly nearly takes a Shark head off near the blue line.
17:10 - Macenauer playing his tail off tonight.
16:20 - Lots of noise coming out of the timeout. Should be a good last 3:40.
16:20 - Just after the Sharks miss a chance at an open net, Hiller saves and freezes it. We go to the last timeout with 3:40 left.
16:10 - Getzlaf absolutely pastes White near the wall. Big, hard hit.
15:33 - Monster kill for the Ducks.
15:10 - Hiller knocks away a Demers shot with the glove. Big stop.
13:33 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. holding Visnovsky wraps around the waist of Jumbo Joe. Big PK coming up for the Ducks.
11:50 - Gordon back on that New Guy Line.
Ducks continue plan to honor a member of the military every game. Nice touch.
11:09 - Ryan and Getzlaf get on a little 2-on-2, but all Ryan can do is take a shot that's deflected out of play.
10:15 - Now McMillan out there with Selanne and Koivu. Didn't played a ton of minutes in the first and second on that fourth line.
9:50 - McMillan on the third line with DSP and Cogliano right now.
9:12 - Beauchemin pounces on a puck rolling back to the blueline, and fires into Greiss.
Crowd announced at 17,243, a little over capacity.
6:20 - Perry forces a Thornton turnover, and Selanne's slap shot a second later is deflected away by Greiss' shoulder.
6:11 - Ducks power play not sharp.
Little bit of chirping in the stands below us between Ducks and Sharks fans. They're forgetting one thing -- to watch the game.
4:11 - SJS Penalty - Torrey Mitchell, 2 min. tripping. Looked like Fowler just blew a tire behind the Anaheim net, but we'll take it. First full Ducks power play tonight.
1:45 - Selanne with a shot from the wing that produces a juicy rebound, but a pinching Visnovsky can't convert.
0:35 - Ducks get the early kill.
0:00 - Here we go in the third 20.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks dominate most of the period, but can't find the net. It's 1-0 still with 35 seconds of power play time for SJ going into the third.
Nice little remix of "In Da Club" from 50 Cent during a break in play. I like it.
Mixture of "Let's go, Sharks" and "Let's go, Ducks" chants sounds like "Let's go, Shucks." Just saying.
18:45 - Now the Ducks get a break when Hiller can't locate a Boyle shot and it chips some paint off the right post.
18:35 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. tripping. Brookbank chops down Clowe in front of the net, away from the puck. Ugh.
17:20 - Ducks completely controlling play the last few minutes. The door's gotta open sometime.
15:50 - Blake with another nice pass in front for the Koivu redirect into Greiss.
14:45 - Ryan trying to reach out with one hand for a puck in the slot and gets taken down. Somehow no call.
14:00 - Perry with a fantastic pass across the slot to Getzlaf, who goes to the backhand and rings the post AGAIN. Getzlaf looked like he was ready to throw his arms up in celebration.
Things getting quiet in here for the Sharks fans, so they start a "Let's go, Sharks" chant.
11:47 - Ducks with a fairly good showing so far in this period, firing plenty of shots at Greiss.
9:40 - Smith-Pelly does a nice job to take the puck in the Anaheim end, then be patient to circle back with it rather than give it up.
7:55 - Blake with a nice feed to Selanne in the slot, shot kicked away.
6:55 - Getzlaf with a missile of a slap shot from right wing that rings the outside of the pipe.
We have a contest in which two people try to guess what Luca Sbisa said in Swiss on the video board. It was a word that apparently means "slap shot" which one woman guessed to win the prize. Sorry I can't do a better job of reporting on that.
5:40 - Blake gets on the rush, but again misses the mark. Nice shift.
5:20 - Blake nicely picks off the puck in between the circles, but fires too high.
4:15 - Ryan with some slick hands to get the puck to Perry, who fires wide. It came just after a hit by Getzlaf on Douglas Murray, so doubly good.
4:45 - Hiller holds tight with Marleau trying to jab at a loose puck.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Slow start for the Ducks, but they get one from Macenauer (first NHL goal) to take a 1-0 lead.
17:57 - Seconds before the period ends, Mitchell gets loose in the slot, but his shot is kicked away by Hiller.
17:45 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry and SJS Penalty Dan Boyle, 2 min. each roughing. After the whistle, a little tustling between the two teams. Douglas Murray gets a late shot in but no penalty.
17:45 - Getzlaf somehow threads the needle on a backhand pass to Ryan, but Greiss stops it.
15:40 - Gordon does a great job to cut in front of the net from left wing, but Greiss pokes it away. I'm becoming a HUGE Gordon fan.
13:59 - ANAHEIM GOAL - MAXIME MACENAUER - Fourth line, baby! Parros picks up a McMillan dumped puck in the corner and backhands it in front, where Macenauer is there to chip it top shelf. First career goal for Macenauer and this crowd goes berzerk. It's 1-0 Ducks.
11:44 - Now Ducks on a power play for a minute.
10:49 - Ducks and Sharks go 4 on 4.
10:49 - SJS Penalty - Dan Boyle, 2 min. interference. Right before the whistle, Macenauer gets a shot off from the left wing, the first for Anaheim.
10:25 - Pavelski with a sweet move to go around Lydman, but Hiller saves the day with a glove snatch. Huge stop. Lydman has something to whisper in his ear. I'm sure "thank you" was in there.
9:44 - ANA Penalty - Devante Smith-Pelly, 2 min. holding. Smith-Pelly gets caught hanging on to Desjardins.
Screaming Guy is in home opener form.
8:50 - No shots so far for the Ducks. Six for San Jose.
7:17 - Nice early kill by the home team.
7:05 - Scary moment in front of the Ducks net as Hiller can't seem to locate a fluttering puck, but it comes down and it's cleared out of there.
5:17 - ANA Penalty - Brandon McMillan, 2 min. interference. McMillan gets tangled with Desjardins.
4:59 - Hiller slides out to make a chest-high save on White.
4:30 - Lot of neutral zone time so far. Sharks with one shot and that's it for either side.
1:20 - Blake picks up the puck near the left post, tries to feed into an open crease, but nobody is there.
1:00 - Toni Lydman in there for the first time this season. Good to see him back.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center in the home opener.
7:13 p.m. - A home opener-worthy anthem performance by Dawn Wright, who got through it despite typically classy Sharks fans shouting throughout the song.
7:10 p.m. - Lots of Sharks fans in the house tonight. One of the busloads was actually cool enough to donate $1,100 to the Ducks Foundation. They are a loud group though.
7:07 p.m. - Every member of the Ducks is introduced to the crowd, as they skate out of the Zamboni tunnel to the blueline. Loud ovations for guys like Fowler, Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan. Even slightly louder for Hiller. And the loudest, of course, for number 8.
6:58 p.m. - Unbelievably cool video montage shown on the HondaVision showing die-hard Ducks fans getting ready for a game. The tennis balls are prominently involved.