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Jets hand Ducks first regulation home loss

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks finally got taken down a 'Peg.

It took an off-night by goalie Jonas Hiller and a great game by counterpart Ondrej Pavelec for the Ducks to see their 22-game home unbeaten streak in regulation end with a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

Evander Kane scored a shorthanded goal in the second period and Pavelec made 40 saves to help Winnipeg beat the NHL's No. 1 team. The Jets improved to 4-0-0 since coach Paul Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel.

"The whole team is playing with confidence," Pavelec said. "The coach let us know that we're good players and we can beat everybody. It just gives us the confidence. We know we can beat everybody. So that's good, but [we have] a lot of work in front of us. We have to keep going."

The Ducks were the last team in the NHL without a regulation home loss (20-1-2) and were attempting to tie the 1978-79 New York Islanders for the second-longest home point streak to start a season (23). The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers own the record at 26.

It was a something of a "trap" game for Anaheim, which hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in a run-up to the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series outdoor game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said there was difference in urgency, especially after Winnipeg had 36 blocked shots to Anaheim's four.

"Usually it's the other way around," Boudreau said. "We're usually leading in blocked shots. They were blocking everything. They were paying the price. That team is in a zone where they want to win right now, and they believe in themselves. When those things happen, you sacrifice, you pay the price, you do what it takes, because you don't feel any pain after that win."

Hiller was replaced by Frederik Andersen after he allowed three goals on 11 shots. It was the first time Hiller was pulled from a game since Oct. 20. He was coming off a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks that ended his 14-game winning streak, the second longest in NHL history.

It was a telling sign when Hiller allowed a bad goal on Winnipeg's first shot -- a Blake Wheeler wrist shot that beat him far side at 5:19 of the first period, 80 seconds after Cam Fowler's power-play goal had put the Ducks ahead. Andrew Ladd banged in a rebound off Jacob Trouba's slap shot at 18:36 to give Winnipeg two goals on seven shots in the first period, not including Michael Frolik's shot off the crossbar.

"Some days you feel better and some days you don't feel that good," Hiller said. "The only problem, as a goalie, you see right away if you don't feel that good, you can't really hide. Those things happen. I'm not too worried about it. I sure feel bad about it and I'm disappointed."

Hiller said he had a good pregame skate and warm-up but "sometimes it seemed like my head didn't find the way into the game. At that level, you can't just come in and think things are going to happen. You've got to be ready. I didn't find a way to get mentally ready tonight."

Kane returned to the lineup after a four-game absence because of a deep cut on his hand, and ended Hiller's night with a high wrist shot from the left circle at 15:43 of the second for a shorthanded goal and a 3-1 lead.

Andersen kept it 3-1 with a breakaway stop on Wheeler at the end of the second.

The Ducks threw everything they had at Winnipeg. They pulled to 3-2 on Nick Bonino's goal at 10:18 of the third period after a Winnipeg turnover at its own blue line. They outshot the Jets 42-21 and nearly tied it on Kyle Palmieri's chance in the crease with about 40 seconds left.

Anaheim lost in regulation loss to a sub-.500 team for the first time since Nov. 12. Captain Ryan Getzlaf called it a "weird game for our group" and alluded to the outdoor game.

"There are a lot of distractions going on this week with the outdoor game," Getzlaf said. "Everyone wants to talk about it, and they have been talking about it for the last two weeks. It's hard to focus in on what you need to do and on the points at the end. That's an excuse, and it's nothing that our group hasn't been a part of before or will be part of again. When there are distractions, we've got to learn to play through them."

Maurice didn't like the start to the game, when Anaheim had a big advantage in shots, but his team held up during a third-period onslaught and the intangibles were evident.

"Willingness was there, all the character stuff, 36 blocked shots, big penalty kill at the end, holding the lead when it goes from 3-1 to 3-2. Yes, our goaltender was a big part of that," Maurice said.

Pressed about what has been different under Maurice, Frolik said, "He's got so much experience. I think he's coached over 1,000 games, so he knows what he's doing. I think in the room, we get sharper too. We know in this League, it's not easy.

"I know it's never easy when the coach gets fired. I think we, as a group, came together and play each other. I think we try to listen to him and the changes that's he made. So far, it's working."

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