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Ellis, Stars hand Ducks first shutout of season

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Dan Ellis had a brief career renaissance with the Anaheim Ducks three years ago and spent time as Jonas Hiller's backup. So it wasn't entirely surprising that Ellis and the Dallas Stars did something that no other team has been able to do this season: shut out the Ducks.

Ellis made 26 saves to beat his former team for the second time this season and Trevor Daley scored in the second period to lead Dallas to a 2-0 victory Saturday night at Honda Center.

"It's always fun to come back here," Ellis said. "I loved my time here. Still the best place I've ever played and lived in, but it was good to get those two points for us tonight."

The Stars snapped an 0-4-1 slide on the road and blanked the NHL's second-highest scoring team for the first time since March 27, 2013. Ellis, who beat Anaheim on Nov. 26, also became the first goalie to beat Anaheim twice in regulation this season. It was his first appearance since Jan.12, and he said the familiarity with his old team helped.

"I've practiced with them a number of times," Ellis said. "I was there for a year and a-half, and the times that I was injured I had a chance to watch them the whole time. You get to understand some of the things you like to do. You work on things in practice with them in and around the net – point shots and one-timers … you just try to use that to anticipate a little better."

Dallas coach Lindy Ruff started Ellis based on that Nov. 26 game and the fact that No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen needed a rest.

"It was time to get him in," Ruff said. "By the looks of things, we may have to play him more. He gave us a rock-solid game. We only had a couple of big breakdowns, and he was there for us."

The two previous games between Dallas and Anaheim this season were 6-3 scores, but Ellis and Hiller made it a low-scoring affair. Hiller stopped 26 shots but lost his third straight start at home.

It was an unusual position for Anaheim, so much so that Hiller struggled to find words to explain it.

"I'm not used to losing a lot," said Hiller, who was seen chatting with Ellis afterward.

Anaheim has been up and down the past three games, and its pattern of coming from behind isn't unfolding the same way as earlier this season. The Ducks were 16-7-1 before Saturday when the opponent scores first.

"It seems like one game we play pretty good and the next game suddenly it seems like we lost everything again," Hiller said. "Right now it doesn't feel like we have that consistency where every day we come in and want to go out and give 100 percent. It seems like we wait and see what's going to happen and then we start getting into the game. It has worked for us earlier, but you can't just think you can come back in the third and win a game."

Dallas took a 1-0 lead into second intermission on Daley's tap-in goal at 5:03 of the second. Cody Eakin, who left the game temporarily after sustaining a facial cut in the game's opening minute, blew past Patrick Maroon and cruised in alone on Hiller, who stopped Eakin's wrist shot. But a pinching Daley collected the rebound and fired it home for his fourth goal of the season.

"He did a heck of a job on the first goal," Ruff said of Eakin. "We missed him. We really mixed things up. It actually created a couple of lines that went pretty good for us when he was out. I think guys picked it up in his absence."

Each goalie made outstanding saves in the second period. Ellis gloved a driving Jakob Silfverberg and Corey Perry coming out of the penalty box. Hiller got his left leg out to deny Rich Peverley from in close on the right side.

Perry had a chance to get Anaheim on the board when he hit the side of the net during a 6-on-5 advantage in the third period. Stars captain Jamie Benn hit the crossbar in the period's final minute and Alex Chiasson hit the post early in the third.

Anaheim couldn't score on two power plays in the third period. It did not record a shot on one of them. Dallas had active sticks and blocked 13 shots.

"They skated better," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They really blocked out well in their own zone. They didn't give us any second shots. They were determined for 60 minutes and we couldn't get in on the forecheck. They moved the puck really quick."

Benn hit the empty net with 29 seconds remaining.

Anaheim defenseman Mark Fistric left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. Boudreau said he will know more about Fistric's status Sunday.

The Ducks played their first game without center and third-leading scorer Nick Bonino, who was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Anaheim center David Steckel was recalled and played his first game since Dec. 11.

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