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Ducks beat Sharks, 1-0, as Jonas Hiller posts second consecutive shutout

Hiller stops 37 shots and the Ducks get a goal from Bobby Ryan in the second period for the victory.

January 09, 2011|By Robyn Norwood

This was Jonas Hiller's weekend in the net: two games, 64 shots, two goose eggs.

With 37 saves in a 1-0 win over San Jose on Sunday night at the Honda Center, Hiller became the first Ducks goaltender to record consecutive shutouts since 2002, when Jean-Sebastien Giguere had three in a row. Guy Hebert is the only other goaltender in Ducks history to record at least two in a row.

"I think words can fail, what he's done for us, and how well he's played," said Bobby Ryan, who scored the game's only goal on a sharp-angled wrist shot from low in the right circle with 5:31 remaining in the second period. Ryan scored his 18th of the season and third in two games after carrying the puck across the slot from the left-wing boards as a defender tried to hold him off.

"All year long, whenever things got out of hand, he was really a very calming presence for us back there," Ryan said of Hiller. "He's having an all-star season. He's certainly been our MVP."

Hiller started his weekend with 27 stops in a 6-0 victory over Columbus on Friday, then clamped down again Sunday with a much smaller margin of error as the Ducks won for the 10th time in their last 16 games.

"We didn't score as many goals as the last one, and I absolutely didn't want to get scored on," Hiller said. "It worked out well again. Everybody feels good out there, and so do I."

The all-star talk is timely, with the NHL set to announce the at-large selections for the Jan. 30 All-Star game on Tuesday. Hiller has numbers, but whether he has the reputation to land among such players as Boston's Tim Thomas, Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury remains to be seen. (Fleury already has been selected in a vote of fans. A total of six goalies will be named to the all-star teams.)

Hiller's case is in the statistics. At 21-14-3 with a 2.39 goals-against average, he is tied for second in the NHL with 21 wins behind Howard's 22, is third in save percentage at .929 and is tied for fourth in shutouts with four.

Then there's the workload. No goalie in the NHL has played more games or faced more shots.

"He seems to be on top of his game right now," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "The pucks are hitting him even when he doesn't see them and there's a screen. He's strong positionally. I think he's more active in the net. He's to be commended. He's playing the puck a lot more and seems to be involved in the game a lot more. That's one of the things we asked him out of the one-on-one meetings we had in Phoenix where we talked about areas of improvement."

Hiller's current scoreless streak is 154 minutes 50 seconds, dating to a second-period goal by Nashville on Wednesday. He has stopped the last 80 shots he has faced.

The Sharks, with one goal in their last three games and a four-game losing streak, couldn't break through.

"A couple crossbars," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "A couple he didn't see. But Jonas is one of the best goalies in the world and we just couldn't get anything by him for whatever reason.

"We crashed the net, put a lot of pucks there, but nothing went in and that's hockey sometimes, I guess."

sports@latimes.com

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