ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jonas Hiller came close to posting his first NHL shutout on a number of occasions since becoming Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s backup last season. This time, Hiller finally got it done.
Hiller made 29 saves while Giguere got the day off, and the Anaheim Ducks got goals from Corey Perry and defenceman Bret Hedican to beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Sunday night.
“I’m happy that it finally worked out. It’s a great feeling,” Hiller said. “I mean, at the end, they count as team wins, but for sure it’s a great feeling for a goalie to get a shutout.
“It’s easier to get in the game when you get some shots at the beginning and move around and get the confidence – especially when you don’t play that much. I’ve been looking to get more starts than last year, but I’m happy to be able to play this many so far. Hopefully, I can keep playing good enough to get some more.”
It was the Ducks’ second shutout in the last two meetings between the Southern California rivals. The last time they met on Nov. 4 at Staples Center, the Ducks won 1-0 on Chris Pronger’s overtime goal. The only other time the Ducks have had consecutive shutouts against the Kings in 2000-01, both in Anaheim by 4-0 scores.
“If you don’t score, you don’t win,” Kings goalie Erik Ersberg said. “(Hiller) played good in net at the other end, so it happens. We played a good team tonight and we gave it our best effort. Maybe we ran out of gas in at the end. It was like this the last game, too. We couldn’t get the puck in the net.”
Ersberg, whose current string of seven consecutive starts began with the previous meeting against the Ducks, made 24 saves in the rematch. Ersberg has allowed just 14 goals during the last seven games (4-2-1).
Perry scored his sixth goal at 11:36 of the second period, just two seconds after the Kings killed off a hooking penalty against Alexander Frolov. Perry got a pass from Ryan Getzlaf in the middle of the Los Angeles zone, left a drop pass in the slot for Kent Huskins and headed for the crease, where he converted a rebound of Huskins’ wrist shot.
Hedican scored with 4 1/2 minutes left, ending a 67-game goal drought dating to Oct. 24, 2007, when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes. Chris Kunitz worked the puck free along the left boards and it went to Hedican, whose one-timer from just inside the blue-line beat Ersberg to the stick side. It was Hedican’s first goal in 37 career games against the Kings.
“It has been a long time. They come few and far between,” said Hedican, who has just 55 goals in 998 NHL games. “It was just one of those things where it just popped out to me right in my wheelhouse, so I just let it go and it found the net. I don’t think he expected the shot right away, and it kind of snuck in like a knuckleball. But I’ll take ’em any way I can get them right now.”
Hiller made 14 saves during the first period – five of them during a four-minute penalty-kill after Getzlaf received a double-minor for cutting Patrick O’Sullivan with a high stick. The Kings didn’t get another shot on net during the final 4:10 of the period following that missed power play opportunity.
Right wing Bobby Ryan and defenceman Brett Festerling were added to the Ducks’ lineup following their promotion from Iowa of the AHL on Saturday. Festerling made his NHL debut in place of Francois Beauchemin, who is expected to be sidelined for six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Friday night in an overtime loss to Nashville.
Ryan played in place of left wing Rob Niedermayer, who was a healthy scratch for the first time since joining the Ducks in a trade with Calgary on March 11, 2003. The 15-year veteran has one goal and no assists in his last 13 contests.
“I talked to Rob this morning and I told him that he wouldn’t play tonight. I think you owe that to your veteran players, that you don’t make a gametime decision on something like that,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think that there’s more to give, and I told him that. We’ll have a more in-depth conversation tomorrow when we have our slate of one-on-one meetings with our players, which we do every 15-20 games.”
Niedermayer didn’t make himself available after the game. So it was left to his brother Scott, the Ducks’ captain, to address the surprise benching.
“I haven’t really talked to him, so I don’t know how he’s feeling,” Scott said. “I mean, I’m sure he’s not happy. But it’s about the team, and I’m sure he’ll handle it the right way. I haven’t really been critiquing his play over the last little while, so I don’t really don’t know the exact situation. But I think he’s been around long enough to handle it well.”
Notes: Niedermayer is 51 regular-season games away from 1,000. He played for Kings coach Terry Murray during Murray’s three seasons with the Florida Panthers. … The Kings lost all four games they played in Anaheim last season, two by shootout. … The Ducks are 0-for-13 on the power play in their first three games against the Kings. Last season they were 5-for-36 in eight meetings. … The Ducks are 6-0 when leading after two periods.