Hiller great as Ducks beat Blackhawks 3-1
“Hillsie stole the game for us, simple as that,” Anaheim’s Corey Perry(notes) said about goalie after the Ducks won 3-1 on Sunday night despite being outshot 43-12. “Quality scoring chances … they probably had 15 to 20. He came up huge for us.”
Perry, Saku Koivu(notes) and Teemu Selanne(notes) scored for the Ducks, who have won four consecutive games. Hiller has allowed only six goals during the streak, which began Tuesday—two days after a 5-2 loss in Chicago with Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) in net.
The Blackhawks, whose 31-11-4 record is the NHL’s best, have their first two-game losing streak since late-November. They were looking for redemption after Saturday’s 6-5 shootout loss at Minnesota, in which they blew a four-goal, third-period lead.
“(Hiller) didn’t give up any loose stuff around the net,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was smothering a lot of pucks, whether that was a lack of traffic or him being really Velcro-ish.”
Anaheim tied its franchise record for fewest shots, last done on Oct. 22, 1996, against Philadelphia. And Chicago tied its record for fewest shots allowed, most recently against the Minnesota North Stars on Dec. 8, 1991.
The Blackhawks are 19-5-1 at the United Center and had won four straight games there since losing to San Jose on Dec. 22—when they outshot the Sharks 47-14. So in their only two losses in their last 11 home games, they had a combined 90-26 advantage.
The Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup with Giguere in net but Hiller became their No. 1 goalie last season. He has gotten hot lately, with nine victories in his last 12 starts, and allowed only three goals on 70 shots in road wins over Nashville and Chicago on back-to-back nights.
“We’ve developed something the last few games,” Hiller said. “That’s what we need to do to get back to the playoffs. If we keep playing like we did tonight, we have a real good chance.”
The Blackhawks went into Sunday having scored at least four goals in nine straight games but weren’t able to beat Hiller until 4:53 remained, with Duncan Keith’s(notes) power-play goal coming on Chicago’s 41st shot of the night and cutting the deficit to 2-1. Hiller was screened by Andrew Ladd(notes) on the play.
Hiller and the Ducks held off the Blackhawks the rest of the way and Selanne scored into an empty net with 25.8 seconds to play.
Hiller was at his best in the second period, when he turned aside 18 shots. He stopped Troy Brouwer(notes) three times, each from point-blank range, and made a sensational save on Patrick Sharp’s(notes) deflection of Brent Seabrook’s(notes) shot with 31.3 seconds left in the period.
“You don’t ask (one player) to win you the game, but he went above that and won the hockey game for us,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “This isn’t an easy to building to come into. They have a very good club and the shot total proved it.”
The Ducks made it 2-0 with 3:21 to go in the first period when Koivu, unchecked in the left faceoff circle, had time to skate in two strides and load up a slap shot that he put over Niemi’s shoulder.
NOTES: Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa(notes), who had five goals in the previous four games, was a late scratch with what the team called a “lower-body injury.” … It was Carlyle’s 200th victory. He got the Anaheim job before the 2005-06 season and is 200-126-48. … Chicago had been 8-0-2 in the second game when playing on consecutive nights.