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Hiller comes up big again in relief for Ducks

by Corey Masisak

LOS ANGELES -- If there were a hockey equivalent of the Rolaids Relief Man Award, Jonas Hiller would have a pretty strong case to win it.

Frederik Andersen was a surprise starter in goal for the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of this Western Conference Second Round series -- but for the second time in four games, Hiller earned a victory in relief. Andersen was injured midway through the third period Thursday and Hiller stopped seven of eight shots in Anaheim's 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

"It can't much worse to kind of sit on the bench for 50 minutes and then suddenly you're in a 2-1 game. I found a way to focus," Hiller said. "In one second you're almost in a different world from being on the bench watching the game, so you have to focus and stop the puck. It worked out and we were able to get a win."

Andersen was injured during a wild sequence of pressure by the Kings. Twice he had to lunge to his right with his knees already bent, and the second time he did not immediately get up.

After a few minutes on the ice, Andersen left under his own power. Hiller entered the game with Anaheim ahead 2-1.

"You definitely follow the game, but it is definitely a more relaxed situation than when you're on the ice," Hiller said. "You just try not to get hit by pucks, but yeah, you have to be into it. It's a lot different than playing. You have to find a way to flip the switch, and you have to get into that game-face mode. I'm happy a made a few saves to get into it."

It was the third time this spring Hiller has come in from the bullpen. Andersen began the postseason as the team's starter, and got the nod in each of the six games against the Dallas Stars in the opening round. Hiller replaced him in Games 4 and 6, and was the winning goaltender when the Ducks rallied from a late two-goal deficit to close out the series with an overtime win in Game 6.

"At that point in Dallas, you pretty much have nothing to lose," Hiller said. "Here, the game and maybe the series, is on the line. It's definitely a different situation. Once you get in there, you have to focus on the next shot and try not get scored on."

Hiller started the first two games against the Kings and played well, stopping 47 of 52 shots. There was no indication Thursday morning that a change was afoot, but the Ducks goaltenders were not available to the media.

Andersen led the Ducks onto the ice, and made 22 saves on 23 shots.

"I looked at the records of both guys at Staples Center and Hiller was 0-7 (actually 0-5-2) in his career here. Freddie was 2-0," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It was like a baseball manager; [I] went with the guy that was comfortable here. And Hiller got the save."

Hiller was actually credited with the win. He became the goalie of record after giving up a goal to Mike Richards in the final minute.

Boudreau said Andersen, like forward Matt Beleskey, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Game 4 is Saturday night at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"I actually didn't find out till this morning, so ... yeah," Hiller said. "Well ... yeah, I was expecting you to play. In the end, that's the coach's decision and you have to accept it.

"As a goalie you always have mental challenges. I've been through more than usual the last few weeks. This was just part of it. You could say I'm almost used it. We'll see how it goes for the next game."

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