Hiller goes in 10th round, Perry 15th at All-Star draft.

A seldom-seen set of spectacles gave Jonas Hiller a dignified look as he sat with his fellow NHL All-Stars at the draft room in Raleigh, N.C.

Then Hiller was met with the indignity of being the last goalie selected Friday, in the 10th round by team captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Hiller and Ducks teammate Corey Perry were split up for Sunday’s All-Star game, which will be played at the RBC Center, home of the Carolina Hurricanes.

According to the rules of the first-year “draft” format, Hiller could not have been picked any later than he was. All six all-star goalies had to be picked in the first 10 rounds.

Hiller, who leads the NHL with 25 wins, watched as Cam Ward was the first player selected overall by captain Eric Staal, Ward’s teammate in Carolina. Tim Thomas (fifth round, Lidstrom), Henrik Lundqvist (sixth round, Staal), Marc-Andre Fleury (ninth round, Lidstrom) and Carey Price (10th round, Staal) all went first.

Perry had to wait until the 15th round to hear his name called, when he was selected by Staal  — one spot after Minnesota Wild forward Martin Havlat and one spot ahead of Kings forward Anze Kopitar.

In addition, Ducks rookie Cam Fowler joined Team Lidstrom and will compete opposite Perry in the SuperSkills competition Saturday. The rookies were divided into two teams of six, before each group of rookies joined up with one group of All-Stars.

Ducks 3, Columbus 2.

The Ducks will not play another game this month, but not by choice.

Anaheim wrapped up a four-game Eastern trip with another one-goal win, leaning again on their goalie to pull out a tough win in a hostile environment. The wins in Columbus, Montreal and Ottawa gave the Ducks six of a possible eight points on the trip, and brought their January record to 8-3-0.

Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler and Jason Blake scored goals, Blake his 200th in the NHL. Jonas Hiller had another monster game, finishing with 35 saves, including point-blank stops on Rick Nash and Anton Stralman point-blank in the third period.

The Ducks got a needed cushion when Derek Dorsett was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding Corey Perry in the first period. Selanne and Fowler cashed in with power-play goals 61 seconds apart and, just as importantly, Perry returned to the game before the period was over.

Nash scored before the period was over to pull Columbus within 2-1, but Blake’s insurance goal early in the third, on a beautiful backhand flip in front of the net, restored the two-goal margin. Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:54 of the third period cut the lead to 3-2 but the Jackets couldn’t convert with Steve Mason (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Ducks 3, Columbus 2.” »

Ducks 4, Montreal 3, SO.

Saku Koivu’s first game back in Montreal began with a heart-warming, name-chanting tribute – and nearly ended in heartbreak.

The longtime captain of the Canadiens could only sit and watch from the penalty box as Max Pacioretty jammed a rebound past Jonas Hiller with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 3.

But for the second time in three games, Bobby Ryan saved the day. Using the same forehand move on Carey Price that he used four days earlier to win a game in Ottawa, Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, and Jonas Hiller stopped all three Canadiens attempts on the other end, to give the Ducks the win.

Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored power-play goals in regulation, and Ryan scored at even strength, to give Anaheim (27-20-4) a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Goals by Pacioretty – his second of the game – and Mathieu Darche allowed the Habs to tie the game in a third period that saw them outshoot the Ducks 23-5.

Hiller, who made 37 saves, was his usual outstanding self in a head-to-head matchup with Price. By getting the win, Hiller matched Price for the NHL lead with 24 wins.

With one stop left (Tuesday in Columbus) on a four-game road trip, the Ducks have collected four of a possible six points to move into a tie with Nashville for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Ducks 4, Montreal 3, SO.” »

Ducks 2, Senators 1, SO.

With the lousy season that the Senators are having – they’re equally close to the last Eastern Conference playoff spot and the worst record in the NHL – try saying with a straight face that a shootout was a desirable outcome Tuesday.

On the other hand, Ottawa was 0-6 in games that go beyond three periods. And with Jonas Hiller stopping nearly everything the Senators sent his way, the Ducks could say they planned it this way all along.

Bobby Ryan scored on the Ducks’ second shootout attempt, and Hiller stoned all three Ottawa shooters, to kick off the Ducks’ four-game road trip with a 2-1 win. Hiller also made 39 saves in a 65-minute game that saw Ottawa outshoot Anaheim 40-27.

Corey Perry scored the Ducks’ lone goal in regulation, his team-leading 24th of the season, at 14:30 of the first period. Perry was in the process of falling backwards when he somehow lifted a shot over the pads of goalie Brian Elliott (26 saves).

Milan Michalek created the Sens’ lone goal when he drew the attention of the Ducks’ defense into the middle of the slot, then somehow – from his rear end – put a backhand shot on Hiller. Mike Fisher snuck behind a distracted Ducks defense to poke the rebound past Hiller at 18:19 of the second period.

Elliott held up his end of the goalie duel in the third period, stoning Matt Beleskey on a breakaway for one of 12 saves to set the stage for overtime.

In the shootout, Elliott wilted at the forehand wrister of Ryan and Hiller stopped Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Henrik Karlsson to preserve the win. The Ducks have won eight of their last 10 with games in Toronto, Montreal and Columbus looming before the All-Star break.

A few more notes:
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Ducks 7, St. Louis 4.

As much two games can be mirror images of one another, the Ducks and the St. Louis Blues certainly flipped roles in their second meeting of the season Wednesday.

Anaheim exacted revenge for a 5-1 loss in St. Louis on Oct. 11 – what seems like a long three months ago after they completed a 5-1 homestand with Wednesday’s win. Bobby Ryan notched his third career hat trick, his second of the season, and Jason Blake, Lubomir Visnovsky, Corey Perry and Brandon McMillan also added goals for the Ducks.

“We’ve realized that on a homestand you really need to come out and put your best foot forward,” Ryan said. “The month of December was a little bit ugly. We’ve gone on streaks all year long. We need to come out at home, establish the forecheck and our identity.”

No one can speak to streaks better than Ryan, who has six goals in his last three games after scoring just one in the previous 10. All three of his goals came within spitting distance of the crease – and off fine primary assists from Joffrey Lupul, Perry and Andreas Lilja – which marked a significant evolution in Ryan’s transition from wing to center.

“It didn’t come as smoothly as we all liked, but we persevered and he has persevered,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “Hopefully that is just a springboard for him to continue on with the offensive threat that he is.”

In that Oct. 11 game, their third of the season, the Ducks were outshot 53-14 and Ryan collected 17 penalty minutes (and no goals). Call Wednesday’s outing a measuring-stick game – a measurement against the Ducks’ former selves.

Jonas Hiller got burned by lapses on defense and allowed four goals on 34 shots, seeing his shutout streak end at 178:34. The Ducks took advantage of an off-night for Ty Conklin, who stopped just 17 of 24.

A few more notes:

Continue reading “Ducks 7, St. Louis 4.” »

Perry, Hiller, Fowler get the call to Raleigh.

Once thought to be playing in the shadows of Ryan Getzlaf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, respectively, Corey Perry and Jonas Hiller became All-Stars in their own right Tuesday.

Perry and Hiller were among the 36 players chosen by the NHL’s hockey operations department to compete in the Jan. 30 game in Raleigh, N.C. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was one of 12 rookies chosen to compete in the “SuperSkills” competition the day before.

It’s the first All-Star selection for Hiller and the second for Perry, who was an injury replacement at the 2008 game in Atlanta.

“The last couple days I’ve been talking about it and felt like it would be really cool and a great honor,” Hiller told reporters Tuesday at Honda Center. “There are lots of good goalies out there. I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to pick.”

Hiller is currently riding a two-game shutout streak that’s moved him into a tie for second in the league in wins (21) and shutouts (4), and third in save percentage (.929). His 2.39 goals-against average is 13th in the league, but Hiller has earned it the hard way – by facing more shots than any NHL goalie.

“When I finally got the word it was just great,” Hiller said. “It’s a great feeling to have the chance to go there. It’s a great honor and I’m really excited.”
Continue reading “Perry, Hiller, Fowler get the call to Raleigh.” »

Ducks 6, Columbus 0.

A lot of things culminated for the Ducks tonight – an awesome month for Jonas Hiller, a revamped power play, the maturation of the young defensemen, and whatever strain of influenza is running through the visitors’ dressing room.

Randy Carlyle wasn’t afraid to highlight the latter in explaining the Ducks’ most lopsided win of the season and their largest on home ice since Dec. 20, 1996, a 7-0 win over Calgary.

“We were able to establish that template,” Carlyle said. “When we do
get on the puck and establish that strong forechecking game, we are a
hockey club that can be effective. Tonight was one of those nights. We
caught Columbus when they were a flat hockey club. They had the flu go
through their team. We seemed to have a half step on them tonight.”
Continue reading “Ducks 6, Columbus 0.” »

Vancouver 5, Ducks 4.

Curtis McElhinney’s misfortune was just the opening the Vancouver Canucks needed.

In the midst of a stellar performance, McElhinney was knocked out when he was struck in the head by Christian Ehrhoff’s shot in the third period. Adding insult to injury, Daniel Sedin scored when the puck bounced right to him off McElhinney’s mask, Ryan Kesler scored on Jonas Hiller in the final minute to tie the game at 4, and Jeff Tambellini potted the game-winner in the shootout.

The surprising turn of events left the Ducks with a tough shootout loss in a game they led 4-2 with eight minutes left in the third period. It also left them without their backup goaltender, at least temporarily, heading into Friday’s game in Anaheim against the Calgary Flames.

McElhinney stopped 24 of 27 and was in line for his third win of the season after goals by Corey Perry, Joffrey Lupul, Teemu Selanne and Cam Fowler.

Kesler’s third-effort goal, with Vancouver skating 6-on-5 with 22 seconds left in the third period, was the only goal Hiller allowed on 13 shots in 12:18 of relief. Tambellini scored the only goal for either side in the shootout.

Lupul’s goal was his first of the season in his third game back. It came one year to the day after his last NHL goal on Dec. 8, 2009, in what proved to be Lupul’s last game of the season.

Todd Marchant had a pair of assists, and Selanne, Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Lubomir Visnovsky and Paul Mara had one helper each.
Continue reading “Vancouver 5, Ducks 4.” »

Ducks 3, Edmonton 2, shootout.

Cam Fowler scored his second game-winning goal of the season in the 10th shootout round, ending the Ducks’ losing streak with one shot in Edmonton.

Joffrey Lupul scored on the Ducks’ first shootout attempt and Taylor Hall answered in the third round, before Jonas Hiller and Nikolai Khabibulin put on a clinic to extend the shootout into the 10th round. That’s when Fowler got the call. On his first NHL shootout attempt, the 19-year-old defenseman fired a hard shot into the upper-right corner to end the game.

“I obviously don’t have the best hands out on the ice. I just wanted to put a good shot on net and give myself the opportunity to score. I think my best opportunity was just to shoot the puck.”

Returning from a two-game layoff while he rested a sore groin, Teemu Selanne had a goal and an assist. He dished to linemate Saku Koivu in the second period – the Ducks’ first goal in their last seven periods – and backhanded a rebound past Khabibulin to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead early in the third.

But the Ducks ran out of gas, a dangerous proposition against the young and fast Oilers. Goals by Ryan Jones and former Duck Dustin Penner in the game’s final 10 minutes tied the game at 2. Anaheim couldn’t take advantage of a power-play in the final three minutes.

Hiller made 34 saves and Khabibulin made 30 for the Oilers, who had won five straight.