EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers got more than their fair share of shots but just couldn’t get past Jonas Hiller.
Hiller tied a team record with 51 saves and Corey Perry scored in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Anaheim Ducks started off a five-game road trip on solid footing, hanging on to defeat the Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.
Rob Niedermayer also scored for the Ducks, who improved to 18-12-3 and have won four of their last six.
Edmonton came within two shots of tying a team record for the most shots at 55 set in 1986 but Hiller proved up to the task in both regulation and extra play, stopping all three Edmonton shooters in the shootout.
“He was amazing,” said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. “We were in the box way too much and he came up huge on a bunch of saves when we were trying to kill penalties and then obviously in the shootout. He won it for us there.”
The 26-year-old goaltender from Switzerland said it often helps to see a ton of rubber.
“Sometimes it’s better to have a lot of shots than just a couple so it was easy to find my game and easy to be in the game and it felt good,” he said.
“He gave us a chance to win and obviously he was the best player on the ice and that’s what you need sometimes when you go out on the road,” said Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle.
Edmonton’s goals came from Kyle Brodziak and Eric Cole.
It was the third consecutive loss for the Oilers who fell to 14-14-3 and a troubling 4-5-3 at home.
But considering the way they battled back from a 2-0 deficit late in the contest to make a game of it, the shootout loss almost felt like a victory.
“You have to take some confidence away from battling back like that,” said Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff. “It was a character point for us tonight.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish admitted it was tough to see the extra point slip away at the end but was happy they even had an opportunity to win it.
“It sure ended up a lot better than it looked like it was going to,” he said. “It looked like it was a train wreck in the process and then we battled hard through it.”
There was an early delay to the game less than two minutes in when Anaheim veteran Teemu Selanne took a hit along the boards from Denis Grebeshkov and suffered a laceration to his left thigh. Selanne had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game. He will undergo an MRI in Anaheim on Saturday.
“It’s a deep cut, but we don’t think it is any where near what Corey Perry had a year ago where he missed six weeks,” Carlyle said.
It took until late in the first period before the first goal of the game was recorded, following a 2-on-1 shorthanded break by the Niedermayer brothers. Scott Neidermayer took the shot on the play and Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson was unable to smother the rebound before Rob Niedermayer snuck the puck in from the doorstep.
The Oilers directed 14 first period shots at Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller to Anaheim’s 11.
The Ducks took a two-goal lead midway through the middle frame on the power play as Bobby Ryan spun around to take send a shot on goal that was tipped past Roloson by Perry, his ninth of the year.
It looked like the Ducks had lost another player to injury with seven minutes left when Perry was sent flying by a thunderous hip check from Ladislav Smid but he was able to return after getting his wind back.
Edmonton finally got onto the board six minutes into the third as the fourth line came through when a Lubomir Visnovsky shot bounced to Brodziak at the side of the net and he roofed it to end Hiller’s shutout bid.
The Oilers finally connected on their ninth power play of the game to tie the contest 2-2 with six minutes to play as Cole batted a puck out of mid-air and in for just his fourth goal of the season to send the game to overtime.
“It’s nice to contribute,” he said. “I certainly feel like I should be scoring on more consistent basis. I had some more opportunities tonight and it was good that we were able to battle back as a team.”
The best chance in overtime came on a point blast from Cole that rang off the post.
Edmonton outshot Anaheim 21-4 in the third and 53-36 in the game.
Both teams are off until Monday when Edmonton plays host to Phoenix and the Ducks head to Vancouver to tackle the Canucks.
Notes: Hiller got the call in the Ducks net with Jean-Sebastien Gigure on leave in Montreal following the death of his father. Netminder David LeNeveu was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League to serve as a backup He only played the first couple minutes of it before leaving due to an injury, but Friday was Selanne’s 1,100 NHL game putting him at 137th on the all-time list Four of Edmonton’s top eight scorers are defenceman: Sheldon Souray (22 points), Lubomir Visnovsky (16 points), Tom Gilbert (14 points) and Denis Grebeshkov (12 points) Former Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger – treated to his usual chorus of boos in Edmonton – is ninth in the league in scoring from the blue-line with six goals and 20 points.