SAN JOSE, Calif. – Jonas Hiller once again found a way to stymie the San Jose Sharks.
Hiller made 39 saves and survived a third-period barrage that kept the Anaheim Ducks in the game long enough for Lubomir Visnovsky to score the game-winner with 32.6 seconds remaining in overtime of a 3-2 victory over San Jose on Tuesday night.
“It’s always fun to play against San Jose,” Hiller said. “It’s kind of a rivalry. They have a good team. They’re always a lot of shots and a lot of work.”
That was the case in this game especially in the final period and overtime, when Hiller stopped 22-of-23 shots to help the Ducks win their fourth straight game.
It was reminiscent of his performance in the 2009 playoffs, when he posted a pair of shutouts and allowed just 1.65 goals per game to help Anaheim upset top-seeded San Jose in the first round.
“Hiller was outstanding,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “The best player on the ice. But that’s what it takes to win on the road in these tough buildings.”
After the Sharks were unable to convert on a couple of chances earlier in the overtime, the Ducks took advantage of a disputed icing call to net the game-winner.
San Jose took a timeout with 36.6 seconds to rest their skaters after the icing, which San Jose coach Todd McLellan thought should have been a no-call or an interference penalty on the Ducks.
Saku Koivu then beat Patrick Marleau on the faceoff. Visnovsky got the puck and beat Antero Niittymaki from the point to end it.
“It was a great face-off,” Visnovsky said. “I stayed in my shooting lane and the goalie doesn’t know where the puck is. The guys in front of me did a great job. I just shot the puck.”
Jason Blake and Corey Perry scored in regulation for the Ducks, who have not lost since dropping a 5-2 decision in San Jose on Oct. 30.
Torrey Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi scored for the Sharks, who have lost three of four games. They had their chances in this game, but were unable to solve Hiller.
Joe Pavelski, who has now gone seven games without a goal, nearly ended it midway through the overtime but he lost control of the puck while stickhandling in front of the net and couldn’t get a shot off.
San Jose was playing without captain Joe Thornton, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on St. Louis’ David Perron. The fans gave a nice ovation when Thornton’s picture was shown on the scoreboard screen, but the Sharks sure could have used him on the ice.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, the Sharks had two power play chances early in the third that were thwarted by Hiller. San Jose put heavy pressure on in the second power play with Hiller making tough saves on Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe.
Then seconds after Koivu came out of the penalty box, Setoguchi took his own rebound near the side of the net and beat Hiller for the equalizer with 10:55 to play. That was San Jose’s 12th shot of the third period, while the Ducks were still looking for their first. The Sharks added 10 more shots in the third but were unable to beat Hiller.
“We knew Hiller was going to be good,” Setoguchi said. “He’s always good. Against us, he seems to play his best. We just have to be better. We have to keep making the shots, having guys go to the net and get second opportunities.”
The Ducks took advantage of a bad clearing attempt by San Jose to take a 2-1 lead in the second. Logan Couture was unable to get the puck out of the defensive zone and Bobby Ryan fired a shot on net. Niittymaki made the save but Perry got the rebound and flicked a shot into the goal while spinning around to give Anaheim the lead midway through the second.
“We played like turtles in the first and second periods, very slow,” McLellan said. “We got much better the last 15 minutes of the game. They were more polished, played with more desperation. They made the decision how they wanted to play. It just came 45 minutes too late.”
The Sharks struck quickly when Clowe fed Mitchell in the slot for an easy goal that made it 1-0 just 1:42 into the game. It was Mitchell’s first goal since the season opener in Sweden.
San Jose nearly took a 2-0 lead but Dany Heatley was called for hitting the puck with a high stick. About a minute later, Anaheim tied the game when Blake deflected Toni Lydman’s point shot past Niittymaki.
Notes: Anaheim had two shots in the first period—the fewest in any period against the Sharks this season. … Anaheim’s George Parros fought San Jose’s Frazer McLaren in the first period, a rematch of a fight last month. … San Jose had won its last three home games by identical 5-2 scores.