The Ducks earned their third win in a row with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on a rainy Sunday night. Or more accurately, Jonas Hiller earned the Ducks their third win a row with 39 saves, 19 of them coming in the third period alone.
“I feel pretty comfortable with the way I am playing,” said Hiller. “I knew I had to play a little better to give the team a chance to win. That is what I’m trying to do. But I also think everybody stepped it up.”
To say that Hiller was exceptional would be an understatement. The Blackhawks will go home wondering why they did not get two points in a blowout and several players will be seeing Hiller in their nightmares. Jack Skille, for one, who swore he had the tying goal midway through the final period. Skille raised his arms and was ready to shout for joy when he noticed that Hiller had the puck in his glove, not in the net, and Skille, in disbelief, was only able to shout “oh my God?!”
Fortunately for the Ducks, they were able to put a couple past Corey Crawford at the other end before Chicago decided to make it a one-sided game.
Andreas Lilja got his first goal of the year and his first as a Duck at 10:32 of the first period. His shot from the blue line seemed to melt through the traffic of at least half a dozen players as it found it’s way behind Crawford.
Bryan Bickell tied up the game at 18:08, just after a Ducks penalty had expired. Hiller made a great save on the first shot, but then the puck was behind his stick and he pushed it into the net himself. Even if Hiller had not put the puck in, Bickell was ready to finish off the puck, so a goal was inevitable.
In the second period, Corey Perry got goal #21 at 1:46. Toni Lydman helped spring Perry free, who took advantage and netted what ended up being the game winning goal.
It was a good thing, because the Ducks best opportunity after that came on a Teemu Selanne penalty shot, the sixth of his career. Selanne missed the wide open net and hit it right into Crawford’s glove at 4:03.
From there on out, it was the Blackhawks and Hiller show. The Ducks only garnered two shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and those came early on in the period. When Crawford vacated the net for the extra attacker, there was no danger of a puck going in there. The Blackhawks could have vacated it earlier without any worries.
In the meantime Hiller made save, after save, after save, befuddling a Chicago team who got robbed.
“He made some highlight reel stops and really saved our butts,” observed coach Randy Carlyle. “What else can you say?”
You can say that that Ducks get to try to make it four in a row on Wednesday night against the Nashville Predators as they continue their six game homestand.
In other notes: Jason Blake left the game early with an upper body injury after hitting the boards awkwardly in a collision with a Chicago player in the first period. He did not return to the game. Maxim Lapierre did not play as his US work visa has not arrived yet.