Goalies are often the biggest proponents of false modesty after a shutout, crediting everyone but themselves for what is often a stellar individual performance.
Not to imply that Jonas Hiller wasn’t stellar in stopping all 45 shots he faced Monday night in Boston – but the Ducks would be rightly credited with one of their more balanced wins of the season.
They exorcised some first-period demons by taking a 1-0 lead on Brandon McMillan’s goal at 5:57 and not letting go. They took that early confidence boost for a spin on both ends of the ice, allowing Hiller to weather (and more importantly, see) the Bruins’ 45 shots, giving Anaheim two wins in four games of its five-game East Coast trip.
Andreas Lilja (paired with Cam Fowler) and Andy Sutton (paired with Luca Sbisa) both re-entered the lineup on defense and “both of those players played one of their best games of the year for us,” in the words of Randy Carlyle.
McMillan played probably his best game too, scoring when the rebound of Sbisa’s shot fell to his feet in front of Tim Thomas (22 saves), then leading the charge to the net that resulted in Corey Perry’s short-handed goal at 15:05 of the second period.
McMillan also was part of the rush that led to Lubomir Visnovsky’s second-period tally, giving the rookie a plus-3 rating and his first multiple-point game in the NHL.
“The kid has worked hard and he got an opportunity,” Carlyle said. ”I moved him out with [Saku] Koivu and [Teemu] Selanne to try and balance out three lines. Because, when you look at their three lines that they have, they got [Marc] Savard centering one line, they got [David] Krejci and then you got [Patrice] Bergeron. Those are three pretty good centers so offensively they can create a lot, so we had to try and match that up so we weren’t overwhelmed by any one line.”
Aside from McMillan, Koivu and Selanne, Carlyle’s changes resulted in a top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a third line of Todd Marchant, Nick Bonino and Joffrey Lupul, and a fourth line of Jason Blake, Kyle Chipchura and George Parros.
The coach has little reason to break the lines up, based on how they played Monday.
“We took care of the puck,” Ryan said. ”We managed it well through the neutral zone, and anytime you can have the D go back on it, and have their head on a swivel because we were coming all night, is huge, huge thing for our forechecking team. So, it led to some turnovers and some offense for us.”
The Ducks blocked 23 shots as a team and – speaking of balance – no defenseman played more than 22:04 and none played less than 17:39.
Then there was Hiller, whose glovework surely turned a few heads in Boston (and on Versus and TSN2), making 36 of his 45 saves over the final two periods. The shutout was his second of the season and the eighth of his NHL career. Guy Hebert was the last Anaheim goalie to record a shutout in Boston on Oct. 30, 1997.
“Guys got in some lanes tonight and made it tough for them to get pucks through, and that’s a tribute to the guys bearing down and defensively helping each other out,” Ryan said. ”Obviously, Jonas was in the zone tonight. He was at his best, and he made some huge, huge saves that could have resulted in some momentum swings.”
As a personal note, it’s hard not to mention the death of colleague Graig Woodburn on Sunday night following a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer at the too-young age of 50. Woodburn covered the Ducks and Kings for the Associated Press and Riverside Press-Enterprise for a number of years. He moved back to his parents’ home in the Boston area recently and had been covering the Bruins for WEEI in Boston.
He would have loved to have been at this game (we hear his daughter, Lauren, was in attendance). The Bruins did an awesome thing by dedicating a seat in the TD Garden press box to Graig for the remainder of the season.