ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jonas Hiller is making it easy for the Anaheim Ducks to quickly forget about traded goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Hiller made a season-high 46 saves on Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, which extended the Ducks’ home winning streak to nine games in the NHL. It was Anaheim’s second game since signing the 27-year-old Swiss netminder to a four-year, $18 million contract extension and trading Giguere to Toronto the following day.
On Monday, Hiller stopped 33 shots in a 3-0 victory at Florida. He is 11-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in his last 14 games, leading a surge that has put the Ducks into playoff contention after a miserable start.
Along the way, Giguere was demoted to the bench – less than three years after leading the Ducks to a Stanley Cup title.
“I think Hiller’s a talented kid,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who guided Anaheim to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003 with Giguere in the nets. “Obviously, Giggy did a great job here. There’s a banner hanging up in the air here and everyone has a Stanley Cup ring because of him.
“When I was here, he got us to the finals, as well. That’s the measure of a goalie. And yet, the sport is all about the next guy coming in and taking your job.”
Hiller’s save total was five fewer than his career high.
“It’s fun to play when you get a lot of shots, but it’s also a little tiring – especially on a back-to-back,” Hiller said. “I wouldn’t have liked to have that many shots, but that’s the way it went. But we found a way, and it was an important two points. We’ve been playing pretty well lately, and we always feel like we have a chance to win.”
At the end of the second period, Pavel Datsyuk sped down the slot between Ducks defencemen Scott Niedermayer and James Wisniewski and beat Hiller to the glove side, ending Hiller’s career-best shutout streak at 155 minutes, 3 seconds.
It was a small measure of payback for Datsyuk, who was robbed on a glove save by Hiller after he raced past Niedermayer and Wisniewski and went in alone during a power play 1:46 into the second.
“He’s a great player with unbelievable speed,” Hiller said. “They have a skilled team and they can put the puck on his stick. I was able to stop the first one, but not the other one. I was a little deep on that one, he went quickly from his backhand to his forehand, and I gave him some room on my glove side.”