Ducks blank Kings in first outdoor NHL game in California
Jonas Hiller was determined to make amends.
"I wasn't really happy the way I played the last game and I wanted to make sure I was ready tonight," said Hiller, referring to a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night when the Anaheim Ducks goalie allowed three goals in 11 attempts before coach Bruce Boudreau yanked him in the second period.
"There was a big buzz and I was super excited to play and a chance to play in front of such a big crowd."
Hiller delivered in a big way, stopping all 36 shots he faced and leading the Ducks to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the first-ever Stadium Series outdoor game on the West Coast before a crowd of 54,099 that included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
Two early first-period goals propelled the Ducks, but Hiller's strong outing was pivotal.
"Hiller was so good tonight," Boudreau said. "I just had a feeling no matter how many good looks they had in the last 10 minutes they weren't going to beat him, or they were going to miss the puck. It was just his karma. He was on."
Boudreau had given Hiller the night off on Thursday after the coach realized his goalie "wasn't focused" against Winnipeg because of the distractions from the attention preceding Saturday's landmark game.
"I think that made him really want to play this game on a big stage," Boudreau said. "I watched him warm up and he was catching pucks. He was really sharp. He made a couple saves early and then the penalty shot cemented that he was on his game."
Hiller stuffed a penalty shot by Kings centre Anze Kopitar midway through the first period. That set the tone for the rest of the game as the Ducks (39-10-5) handed the rival Kings (29-18-6) their fifth straight defeat.
"It's tough chasing a lead and (we had) trouble scoring goals," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Tough coming back from two. (Hiller) played a strong game. And we had trouble scoring."
Right winger Corey Perry scored his club-leading 25th goal and left winger Matt Beleskey produced his fifth for the Ducks, who beat Los Angeles for the second time in the past three days. Saturday's win came on the heels of the Ducks' 2-1 decision over the Kings on Thursday night in Anaheim.
Ducks centre Andrew Cogliano added an empty-netter with 1:29 remaining in the game to send Kings fans rushing for the exits.
Kings netminder Jonathan Quick logged 18 saves. For Hiller, the win ended a two-game skid after he posted a club-record 14 consecutive victories.
"It was a tough game to play for both sides because the puck seemed to bounce a lot," Hiller said. "I found a way to keep the puck out."
Centre Ryan Getzlaf, right winger Teemu Selanne and centre Kyle Palmeri each had an assist for the Ducks, who have won 11 of their last 13 games.
"It's an emotional game and we came up really emotional, as well as the Kings," Boudreau said. "But once that adrenaline starts to leave your body, you get exhausted. (We) took over and again, Jonas was there to save the day."
Perry broke the ice just 2:45 into the game, rebounding a miss by Getzlaf and slamming the puck past Quick for a 1-0 Anaheim lead.
Beleskey made it 2-0 when he scored off a pass from centre Nick Bonino at 8:12 of the first.
Anaheim captured wins in 10 of its last 12 road games (10-2-0) and has points in 11 of the last 12 (10-2-1). With an 18-9-3 road record, the Ducks lead the NHL in road points (39) and wins.
The Kings' only win over Anaheim occurred Dec. 3 in a 3-2 shootout victory.
NOTES: The Kings outshot the Ducks 20-7 in the first period but failed to score. ... Though it was a celebration of hockey, legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully received the loudest ovation before the game. ... Hall of Famer and former Kings C Wayne Gretzky dropped the celebratory first puck. ... The group KISS performed during pregame and the first intermission. ... This is the third of a five-game set between the clubs. They will meet again March 15 and April 12. Both games are in Los Angeles. ... The Ducks begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. ... The Kings visit the San Jose Sharks on Monday and the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday before kicking off a four-game run at home on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. ... Anaheim leads the series 51-41-23.