Thanks to the goaltending of Jonas Hiller, the Anaheim Ducks are on a roll.
Hiller made 27 saves on Wednesday night as the Ducks made it five wins in a row with a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins at the Honda Center.
Hiller wasn't as busy as he was in Sunday's 3-1 win at Chicago, when he stopped 42 shots. But the Swiss goaltender was superb in the final few minutes after Steve Eminger's goal put Anaheim ahead to stay. He preserved the win by stopping David Krejci at his right post with 15 seconds to play after Krejci stepped out from behind the net with the puck.
"I was definitely happy with my game in the third period," said Hiller, who has stopped 152 of 161 shots during the streak for a 944 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average.
"Our goaltender played well," said center Ryan Getzlaf, whose 100th career goal tied the game at 3-3 just 1:59 into the final period. "He enabled us to come back and chip away and get those extra points.
Getzlaf tied the game when he took a perfect pass from James Wisniewski and beat Tuukka Rask from 10 feet. Eminger put Anaheim ahead to stay when he snuck down from the right point and tapped in a loose puck in the crease after Tuukka Rask stopped Bobby Ryan's blast from the left circle but couldn't control the rebound. It was his Eminger's first goal as a Duck.
"I’m definitely happy about it," Eminger said. "My last one was the last game of last season. It’s been a while. The main thing was keeping the streak alive. It’s five in a row now. That is a big streak for us coming into the second half of the season here. I’m excited to be part of it and have a game-winner".
Though the Ducks are still 12th in the West, the win moved them within four points of the eighth-place Kings in the playoff race. The Southern California rivals play Thursday night in Los Angeles.
"It shows that we’ve gained some confidence over the last couple of games," Hiller said. "We’re not giving up and the team is not falling apart. Our guys are stepping up. We know we have to play 60 minutes at our best to have a chance. The next time is tomorrow night."
The one down note for the Ducks was the loss forward Teemu Selanne, who left the ice midway through the third period after being hit by a deflected puck. Coach Randy Carlyle said after the game that Selanne had a broken jaw and will have surgery on Thursday. "The puck hit the bottom of someone's stick, hit the ice and bounced up and hit him," Carlyle said.
Boston started a three-game swing through California with its third loss in a row. The Bruins visit San Jose on Thursday night and Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. Boston lost both games against the Ducks this season, including a 6-1 home loss on Oct. 8.
"It's a tough loss to take," coach Claude Julien said. "I think our guys battled hard, had some great chances. We tried to tie the game up and even extend the lead at one point, but (the puck) just didn't want to go in on that last one.
"Mistakes cost us some goals, but we battled back. It's one of those tough losses that's hard to take right now."
Anaheim got the game's first goal with 45.9 seconds left in the opening period when rookie Dan Sexton smacked Ryan's cross-crease pass behind Rask for a power-play goal after Ryan grabbed the deflection of James Wisniewski's missed shot.
After a relatively quiet opening period, the second period was wide-open, with Boston getting three of the four goals.
The Bruins tied it at the 4-minute mark when Zdeno Chara's big slap shot from the point sailed past a screened Hiller. Krejci picked up the puck behind the Boston net, circled and fed Chara for the blast through traffic.
Boston went ahead at 7:08 thanks to a fine play by Mark Recchi, who stole a pass at his own blue line, raced down the right side into the Anaheim zone and backhanded a pass from near the goal line into the slot. He found defenseman Matt Hunwick, coming late, for a blast from between the hash marks that Hiller had no chance on.
Rask hurt himself with his puckhandling on Anaheim's second goal. He went out to play the puck near the border of the trapezoid, couldn't do it and scrambled back to his net but never really got set. He stopped Petteri Nokelainen's shot but could do nothing as rookie Matt Beleskey chipped in the rebound at 11:47 for his fourth goal in five games.
Recchi was involved again when the Bruins went back in front at 13:49. He picked up the puck along the right boards near the goal line, circled back to the point and threw a wrist shot on net. Marco Sturm, jockeying for position about 10 feet in front of Hiller, got a piece of the puck and deflected it into the net.
Recchi, normally a winger, was moved to center and drew praise from Julien.
"We created some scoring chances, and he moved the puck well," Julien said. "I thought that Mark, at center, did a good job. He was reasonable on faceoffs and did a good job down low."