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Hiller almost steals another one

Sunday, 04.26.2009 / 2:53 AM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Eric Stephens - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In a game they desperately needed, the San Jose Sharks found a way to beat Jonas Hiller even though the Anaheim Ducks’ goaltender did his best to steal a win and clinch a series.

Hiller made 45 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday night in a game that should have been won by the superior Sharks in regulation. Many of those saves were on point-blank chances, allowing the Ducks to stay close and tie the game with two third-period goals.

It has been a breakthrough series for the 27-year-old Swiss netminder. Hiller pitched shutouts in Games 1 and 4 and has stopped 184 of 193 shots in this best-of-7 Western Conference Quarterfinal series, which resumes Monday night back in Anaheim, where the Ducks can close out the Presidents' Trophy winners.

"He’s doing it right now," Anaheim forward Corey Perry said, "and he's doing it at the right time. He’s peaking at the right time and we need him to be where he is."

Hiller was particularly strong in the first two periods, when San Jose pinned the Ducks in their own zone for shifts at a time. Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo each had seven shots, while Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton each had five.

Marleau finally got the winner at 6:02 of overtime -- but only after Hiller stopped two shots by Thornton and tried in vain to keep a loose puck from trickling in off his skate.
 
"At the start of the game, he made some real big saves," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. "They came out extremely hard and we did not. We let them come at us and didn’t respond well to managing the puck and getting it out of our zone. Hillsy was there again. He’s played very well for us."

Had it not been for Hiller, the Ducks would have likely been blown out.

"He was huge for us," Perry said. "You look at the first period and how hard they came out. We were lucky to come in with just a 1-0 lead. He’s done his job. He’s kept us in every game and given us a chance to win every night.

"It’s a huge part to our game right now. When he’s going, everyone else is going in front of him."
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