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Hiller leads Ducks to fourth straight win

by Brian Compton
Less than 24 hours after beating the Nashville Predators in their rink, Jonas Hiller went back to work, and this time shut down one of the best teams in the sport.

The Swiss goaltender made 42 saves on Sunday as the Anaheim Ducks won their fourth straight with a 3-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

Corey Perry, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne scored for Anaheim. Hiller has allowed only six goals during the four-game streak, which began Tuesday -- two days after a 5-2 loss in Chicago with Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net.

"I was used to it back home," Hiller said of playing back-to-back nights. "It's nothing new here. I tried to focus again. It's working pretty well the last few games."

Anaheim had only 12 shots on goal, tying the franchise record for fewest shots, last done on Oct. 22, 1996, against Philadelphia. It also tied Chicago's record for fewest shots allowed, most recently against the Minnesota North Stars on Dec. 8, 1991.

The Blackhawks, who boast the best record in the NHL at 31-11-4, have lost two in a row for the first time in nearly two months. They were coming off a 6-5 shootout loss Saturday night in Minnesota in which they blew a four-goal, third-period lead.

"I don't think there's a loss of confidence or anything," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We worked hard. They played well defensively. You've got to give them credit, for sure. It's frustrating, considering how many shots we had on net tonight."

Anaheim grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period. Perry opened the scoring at 7:29 via the power play. After Patrick Sharp was whistled for slashing, Perry bumped Brent Seabrook off the puck behind the net, skated out in front and beat Antti Niemi. It was his 18th goal of the season. Koivu doubled the Ducks' lead at 16:39 at even strength, as he fired a slap shot from the left circle past Niemi.

Hiller was spectacular in the second period, stopping all 18 shots he faced. He stopped Troy Brouwer three times, each from point-blank range, and made a sensational save on Sharp's deflection of Seabrook's shot with 31.3 seconds left. Chicago didn't solve Hiller until Duncan Keith scored on the power play with 4:53 left in the game.

"It was a great game … a great effort from everybody," said Hiller, who has won nine of his last 12 starts. "We had a lot of blocked shots. We played just a simple road game and we tried to play solid defense."

Chicago will attempt to stop the bleeding on Thursday, when it hosts the suddenly-hot Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks hadn't scored fewer than two goals in a game since Dec. 11, a span of 15 games.

"I still thought we battled," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we did what we had to do to try to get ourselves back in the game. We've got a few days to get excited about getting back at it. Their goalie had a good game."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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