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Flames' Hiller off to shaky start against former team

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- It didn't take long for Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller's former fans to turn against him at Honda Center on Thursday.

"Hil-ler, Hil-ler," Anaheim Ducks fans mockingly chanted.

Hiller allowed three goals on 14 shots in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game against his former team in a 6-1 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round.

Jonas Hiller
Goalie - CGY
GAA: 2.61 | SVP: .919
Flames coach Bob Hartley pulled Hiller for Karri Ramo 2:13 into the second period with the Ducks leading 3-0.

"I thought that he had a rough start," Hartley said. "There was a few goals that I'm sure that he'd like to see again. At the same time, we're trying to turn the game around and get some work for Ramo."

Hiller's shaky performance raises the question of whether Hartley will turn to Ramo to start Game 2 of the best-of-7 series Sunday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports).

It won't be an unfamiliar decision for the Flames coach. Hiller made 44 starts in the regular season, and Ramo 32.

Hiller, who signed a two-year contract with Calgary as a free agent last summer after seven seasons in Anaheim, alternated starts with Ramo for most of October. He took control of the No. 1 job for most of November, but Ramo started five straight games and six of seven beginning Nov. 26.

Hiller appeared to take back the starting job when he made nine straight starts Dec. 19-Jan. 9, but then Joni Ortio, called up from Adirondack of the American Hockey League with Ramo injured, made five straight starts before the All-Star break.

After the break, Hiller started 12 of 13 games. Ramo then started 13 of the next 16 before again giving way to Hiller, who started six of the final seven games of the regular season and was named the No. 1 goalie for the playoffs.

Hiller was 3-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .931 in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks, but he has been pulled in two straight games and three of the past six. He allowed two goals on three shots in Game 6 against the Canucks before Ramo relieved him and made 17 saves on 19 shots to allow the Flames to rally for a series-clinching 7-4 win.

Hiller, who also was pulled late in a 4-1 loss in Game 2 against Vancouver, acknowledged that Calgary is facing another level of opposition in the second round; he certainly knows how dangerous his former teammates are, especially after he was 1-2-0 with a 3.43 GAA and .889 save percentage against them in the regular season.

"They were more ready than we were, and we've got to do a better job and kind of get back to our staple, which is working hard, outworking the opponent, and I think we got outworked tonight, and that way, it's tough to win," Hiller said. "You could tell they were desperate. They wanted to win tonight. We just didn't match their intensity."

Calgary will have two days to regroup and figure out if Hiller or Ramo will give them the best chance at a split in the series going back home.

No matter who is in goal, the Flames will have to make it easier in front of him because the Ducks have a size advantage.

'I thought especially around the net, they outworked us [in] kind of both ends," Hiller said. "They got the inside position a lot. We didn't get a whole lot of second chances at their end. That's kind of these days [how] games get decided. At least we know we can play better. I don't think anybody was happy the way we played, me included. We have to get better, and that's nice when you have another chance in two days."

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