Ducks winger Bobby Ryan celebrates a short-handed goal against the Colorado… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
Twenty points out.
The Ducks' Teemu Selanne referred to it as avoiding "rock bottom." The team was 20 points from a playoff spot Jan. 6 and on the brink of turning into an NHL trading bazaar.
A little more than two weeks later, 20 dwindled to 11. The Ducks' wild ride continued with a 3-2 victory over Colorado on Sunday at Honda Center with goalie Jonas Hiller making 43 saves. Their run stands at 8-0-1 since Jan. 6 and they are 11 points behind the eighth-place Avalanche in the Western Conference.
On Sunday, the final five minutes were a scramble, a snapshot of how the Ducks rarely do anything the easy way. They led, 3-0, on Bobby Ryan's two goals and Ryan Getzlaf's goal and assist. But the Avalanche scored twice in about a minute and a half late in the third period to cut the Ducks' lead to 3-2.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout after Milan Hejduk's goal at 16 minutes 28 seconds pulled the Avalanche within one goal. The last 31/2 minutes passed in a dizzying blur for Hiller.
"I wasn't thinking too much," Hiller said. "I just didn't want to get scored on again. I think everybody suddenly realized there that we had to step it up again and I was really impressed how we did. I thought we had one of our best shifts the whole game right after they scored their second goal."
Hiller, who won his fifth consecutive game, is 5-0-1 in his last six appearances and has a 1.33 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage.
Boudreau gave Hiller his proper due.
"In this run, he's been spectacular," Boudreau said. "I'll put my bid in right now. If he's not player of the week, player of the month, I mean, it's bad enough they don't even sometimes know we exist out there in Anaheim — that, I'm learning quickly — but I hope they do take notice of how well he's played and give him some recognition."
Hiller was aided by dazzling individual efforts by Ryan and Getzlaf. Ryan had three breakaways, scoring on two of them, the first one a short-handed goal early in the first period and the second, early in the third, was set up by a long breakout pass from Getzlaf.
"I'm not exactly built for speed on breakaways," Ryan said, laughing. "Great pass by Getz and unfortunate bounce on them on the breakout. I'll take 'em."
Hiller did the rest.
"Those are the nights you really need him," Boudreau said. "You talk about a goalie stealing a game and we needed that. It's not easy when you have a run from where we started. A lot of it is mentally draining. You're exhausted mentally because there's no room for error."
Toni Lydman sits out
Veteran defenseman Toni Lydman, who has played in 44 games this season, sat out against the Avalanche because of illness, the team said.
But the Ducks said Lydman would travel to Dallas for their last game before the All-Star break, as would forward Matt Beleskey, who has been out because of a swollen right hand.