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Ducks blank Sharks 1-0 in home opener

by Curtis Zupke /
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jonas Hiller and Anaheim's grinders upstaged the Ducks' high-powered top line.

At some point the trio of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will get going statistically, but it was Hiller and the fourth line's turn to shine on Friday night. Hiller made 31 saves for his 12th career shutout and made rookie center Maxime Macenauer's first NHL goal stand up as Anaheim defeated San Jose 1-0 to thrill the sellout crowd of 17,243 that filled the Honda Center for the Ducks' home opener.

Hiller helped Anaheim killed four San Jose penalties, including one late in the third period, and made a spectacular glove save on Joe Pavelski in the first period that set the tone for a defensive battle between the Pacific Division rivals.

The shutout came three games into a new season after vertigo symptoms ended Hiller's 2010-11 season in February.

Asked if it was a statement game, Hiller said, "I want to make a statement every night. It always nice to get these kinds of games. I feel good out there. Goaltending is a lot about confidence. It's easier to be able to start with these kinds of games."

The Pavelski save was impressive and pivotal. The San Jose center danced around defenseman Toni Lydman and lifted a high shot that Hiller gloved.

"He kind of got by Tony and I just wanted to challenge him for the shot because I thought he had room to move," Hiller said. "I definitely think it was an important one at that time. Shortly after we were able to score."

Anaheim also survived a 6-on-5 skating advantage in the final minute after the Sharks pulled goaltender Thomas Greiss.

The victory came at a price as Ducks lost winger Jason Blake, who left the game in the third period with a "severe cut" on his left forearm and was taken to a local hospital, according to Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle.

Though the Ducks are 2-1-0, Anaheim's top line is scoreless in three games -- the three non-shootout goals so far this season have come from their third and fourth lines and defenseman Nate Guenin. Anaheim lost 4-1 to Buffalo on Friday and beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere series in Europe.

The Ducks fell to 0 for 13 on the power play for the season after an 0 for 2 performance Friday.

"What's particularly concerning for us is that we're not getting enough scoring," Carlyle said.

"Our big guys aren't scoring. Our power play hasn't delivered a goal yet. All of those things are the little game within the game.

"Tonight I thought our defensive side of it won us the hockey game. I don't know if you can play 82 games that way, but it's nice to be able to rely on that early in the season."

The Ducks got on the board at 13:59 of the first period when they won a matchup of the fourth lines.

Macenauer banged in a pass from George Parros in the crease to finish off a terrific play by the trio. Macenauer won a faceoff in Anaheim's end, and Brandon McMillan worked it to the corner for Parros behind the goal line.

"It's always a lift when those guys can contribute," Carlyle said. "They executed it to a tee and they found a way to push it over the line. Who would have thought that that would have been the difference in the hockey game?"

Macenauer was one of the last players cut in Anaheim's training camp last year but he earned a starting job this time with his two-way play, speed and ability to play on the penalty killing unit.

"He's a fast player," Parros said. "He can get around guys and get in on the forecheck, and he's got a touch around the net, obviously. Hopefully we can get him the puck more."

San Jose had a chance to tie it late when Ryane Clowe was open in front but hit the right side of the net.

"It (the puck) was bouncing," Clowe said. "Obviously if I get that on net, it's in. A lot of missed opportunities tonight."

Both the Ducks and the Sharks, who hadn't played since beating Phoenix 6-3 in its opener last Saturday, looked rusty in the early going.

The Ducks didn't record a shot on goal until midway through the first period and were outshot , 11-4, in the first 20 minutes. San Jose couldn't convert two early power plays as Andrew Desjardins drew a pair of penalties.

"We didn't have the legs like we did against Phoenix," Clowe said. "Tonight we were kind of fading off and turned our back to the puck. They were kind of ‘hope plays,' hoping the puck will get to you instead of knowing you have to work.

"It's a good lesson for us. We get to play them Monday (at HP Pavilion), so it's a good chance for us to improve."

Lydman made his season debut and was promptly called on to defend the Sharks' big line. Despite the Pavelski misplay, Lydman played a solid 20:03 and flattened center Joe Thornton in the second period.

San Jose was without Martin Havlat, who has yet to make his Sharks debut as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Sharks also had goalie Antti Niemi available as the backup to Greiss.  Niemi is expected to make his season debut Saturday or Monday when he is fully recovered from having a cyst removed from his knee.

It was a disappointing outcome for the Sharks after their dynamic showing on opening night.

"I didn't think our team was particularly sharp," said coach Todd McLellan, whose team flew home for a Saturday night game against St. Louis. "I thought we bobbled a lot of pucks -- it showed up on the power play, where the passing was off and the shot selection wasn't real good. We've got some work to do, and it's a good thing we play right away again tomorrow." 
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