Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller wasn't one of the five on his team who won an Olympic medal in Russia.
Friday night, Hiller and his defense-minded teammates had to settle for something else in their return from the Olympic break: a shutout victory over the St. Louis Blues, 1-0, at Honda Center.
In addition to Hiller's 18 saves, the Ducks (42-14-5) blocked 27 shots and out-hit the Blues, 35-25, to conclude a three-game season sweep.
“That was some big men hitting each other, and I thought it was [like] a playoff game, not as artistically pretty as some games, definitely a man's game,” said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, whose 300th career victory made him the fastest to achieve that mark in NHL history.
Boudreau was equally pleased by his team's hitting, led by defensemen Ben Lovejoy (six) and Mark Fistric (five), and its ability to block shots. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin led the team with five.
“You pay the price,” Boudreau said. “We did a great job with guys getting right in the shooting lanes. That's part and parcel of why you win.”
Said Hiller: “For being the first game in 20 days, we did a good job. Everybody was sacrificing.”
The Ducks' goal came 3 minutes 39 seconds into the game when forward Andrew Cogliano scored to match his career-high goals total with No. 18.
Cogliano burst up ice to get a Saku Koivu pass, creating a breakaway chance he converted by sliding a backhanded shot past the glove of Blues' goalie Brian Elliott.
Elliott was in the net hours after the Blues (39-14-6) made some moves to fuel their push to challenge the Ducks for the Western Conference title. St. Louis acquired Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who was backup to the Kings' Jonathan Quick on Team USA, and sent goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, two draft picks and a minor league player to Buffalo, which also dealt forward Steve Ott to the Blues.
“They gave themselves a good chance to be a contender for the Cup,” Hiller said. “It makes them a real dangerous team. But at the same time, I think we've proved we can play with them. Won three games out of three. I'm sure we'll see them again.”
Despite starting the night tied with Anaheim for the second-most goals in the NHL, St. Louis needs a goal scorer, too, as it followed Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Vancouver by getting blanked again.
Blues forward Ryan Reaves tried a final-minute shot in the second period that hit the post behind Hiller's left side, slid evenly along the front of the goal line, then hit the right post, deflecting outward.
“I always say I'm in good position if it hits the post,” Hiller said.
Halak's late absence forced the Blues to hire the Ducks' part-time locker room attendant Jeff Tyni as their backup goalie at 4 p.m. Friday.
Tyni, 30, who played on Cal State Fullerton's hockey team, called Friday's experience “a dream come true” as he had the Blues sign a stick after the game.
All the hitting did claim one Ducks' casualty, however, as center Mathieu Perreault got the worst of a collision and left the game for good early in the third period with what appeared to be a right arm injury after getting struck to the boards.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun