For once in this postseason, the Anaheim Ducks' goaltender was just ordinary -- and the Detroit Red Wings chipped away at the wall he built in the net with a convincing 6-3 victory in Game 4 to even the best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinal series at two wins apiece.
The Red Wings regained the home-ice advantage entering Game 5 on Sunday at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
Through the first nine games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hiller had a 6-3 record with a 1.74 goals-against average and a save percentage of .955. The Swiss-born netminder was also coming off consecutive victories in which he respectively made 59 and 45 saves.
But on Thursday night, Hiller's "A" game was nowhere to be found. Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa each scored twice -- once each on stoppable shots -- to punch a hole in Hiller’s mystique and Mikael Samuelsson’s early third-period goal ended his night. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, who lost the No. 1 job late in the regular season, saw his first postseason action after Hiller had his worst night of the playoffs.
"We just weren't good enough as a team, and the goalie is part of that," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Corey Perry gave the Ducks a quick 1-0 lead just 42 seconds into the game but Franzen beat Hiller with a wrist shot midway through the first period and hurt the Ducks with a deflection of a Niklas Kronwall shot in the final minute.
Hossa then delivered twice against Hiller in a three-minute span after Perry tied the game midway through the second.
After scoring just seven goals against Hiller in the first three games, the Red Wings’ offense gained some confidence after finally translating some of their many shots in the series into scores.
"He was playing really well for them," Hossa said. "Tonight, we finally got him going and we found a way to score on him. After that, they made a change on the goalies. You keep putting pucks at his feet and good things will happen."