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Ducks rally to beat Coyotes in shootout

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- The clock keeps ticking on Jonas Hiller's contract, which is set to expire at the end of the season. His performance Friday night suggests he'll make it tough for the Anaheim Ducks not to bring him back.

On a night when the Ducks' defense had lapses and Anaheim's power play continued to come up empty, Hiller won a goaltending dual with Mike Smith in 3-2 shootout victory against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Jakob Silfverberg snapped a shot past Smith's glove in the sixth round and Hiller stopped Phoenix captain Shane Doan as the Ducks won their sixth straight game and improved to 6-1-0. It is the first time in team history the Ducks have won six of their first seven games, and the 12 points matches the best start in franchise history; the 2006-07 Ducks started 5-0-2 on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

"Today maybe wasn't our best game again, but we played really good defensively, and we didn't give up too many chances," said Silfverberg, who improved to 5-for-8 in shootouts for his career. "We have great goaltending, and that's been taking us to a couple of wins in the last couple of games."

Smith made 37 saves in regulation and overtime and denied Anaheim on four power plays, including Antoine Vermette's third-period tripping penalty. Hiller made 30 saves and withstood six Phoenix power plays, including a 10-second two-man advantage in the third.

Hiller stopped three of six attempts in the shootout and remains undefeated at 4-0-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. Anaheim, despite 14 giveaways, is off to a franchise-best 4-0-0 start at home.

"A big part, I think, is just the way we played last year," Hiller said of the team's fast start. "A lot of guys are still the same guys. Once we kind of got in our [run] last year, we were really successful. Right now, we're playing the same way. We're playing fast. We know we can beat any team, especially here at Honda Center."

Phoenix led 2-1 in the third before Nick Bonino's fluke goal tied it with 2:02 left in regulation. The Coyotes were outshot 14-8 in the third period and overtime, and Smith had some telling comments afterward.

"That's a disappointing way to lose this game," Smith said. "I think we had control there after we scored that second goal and then we kind of just sat back. I felt like we were scared to win.

"I don't know why, but I hope we take something out of this game. It's happened before with this group where it's seems like we get the lead and then we tense up and we don't want to play anymore. We just dump it in and we don't forecheck. You do that against skilled teams and they can pick you apart pretty quick. It's not a game where you can just back up and hope to win."

A Ducks team that outscored opponents 13-3 in its first three home games and ranked second in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring looked like it would produce one goal until Bonino's fluttering, end-over-end shot from the right point looped past Dustin Penner's screen and floated past Smith in the third to tie it at 2-2.

"I had an extra second and I knew Penner was stationed in front. I just tried to put it on net," Bonino said. "About halfway there, I noticed the line the puck was on was looking pretty good, and that Smith had no idea where it was. It went in, and I was happy."

Smith certainly wasn't

"I caught a glimpse of it, but I thought it was going over the net," he said. "I watched a replay of it there. It just dropped right in the top of it. Bar down."

Hiller held his ground against Smith for most of the night before Phoenix broke a 1-1 tie when Rostislav Klesla scored his first goal of the season with 12:06 remaining in the third. Klesla's point shot hit the knee of Anaheim defenseman Bryan Allen and found the left side of the net.

Phoenix used the momentum from a big penalty kill and tied it at 1-1 midway through the second period. Vermette took a shot-pass from Keith Yandle and banked the puck off Hiller from the left side at 11:11, just after Sami Vatanen came out of the penalty box.

It was Yandle's double minor for high sticking Daniel Winnik that Anaheim's 30th-ranked power play couldn't convert, and it fell to 1 for 28 on the season. The Ducks got great puck movement, though, and put seven shots on goal. The prime chance was Corey Perry between the circles but Smith denied him.

Selanne got Anaheim on the board in the first period - the fifth time in seven games the Ducks have scored first -- because of a Phoenix turnover. Mathieu Perrault grabbed Derek Morris' clearing attempt and found Selanne in the slot. Selanne's shot squeaked under Smith's left pad at 6:38 for career goal No.677.

Selanne also scored in the fifth round of the shootout, when Smith was beaten four times.

"That was embarrassing," Smith said. "You let in four goals on six shots. That's unacceptable."

Doan didn't think his team was scared to win but he concurred about the third-period lapse.

"We recognize that we had opportunities and they get a fortunate goal," Doan said. "They take that shot a lot of times, that's not going to go in, but it went in tonight. Give them credit. They kept coming. At the same time, we were [back] on our heels a bit. We're a better team when we play a little bit more aggressive. The second half of third period, once we got the lead, we weren't as aggressive as we usually are."

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