EDMONTON, Canada -- Jonas Hiller will return as the Ducks’ goalie here Sunday night after allowing four first-period goals on nine shots in the team's previous game.
“It’s nice when you don’t have too much time to think about things that didn’t go too well. You want to get back as soon as possible,” Hiller said following the team’s morning skate at Rexall Place.
“You overthink things [and] think about things you shouldn’t think about. [It's] nice to go back out and focus on hockey.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau expressed confidence in Hiller (29-12-7) after his 5-2 loss to Nashville on Friday.
“You don’t turn bad overnight,” Boudreau said. “He’s been great all year for us, had a couple rough outings. At one point, he’s going to come back really good, and I’m hoping it’s tonight. I’ve [coached] him for 2½ years. He’s never had that bad of a spell. I believe he’ll bounce back.”
The last time Hiller was here, March 28, he also gave up four goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the last-place Oilers. While the Ducks launched 51 shots that night at ex-Kings goalie Ben Scrivens, Hiller confronted just 23 shots.
Former Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth, whom the Ducks beat 3-2 with three third-period goals Wednesday, will be in the opposing goal tonight a month and two days after Anaheim traded him for draft picks.
Hiller was given three games off by Boudreau when he followed his 14-game winning streak earlier in the season with a 6-7-3 performance.
In Hiller’s absence, rookie Frederik Andersen (19-5) positioned himself as a strong candidate to be in the net at playoff time with three consecutive victories, especially after Hiller was overwhelmed by then-last-place Nashville.
“There’s a lot of pressure in goaltending anyway,” Hiller said of the apparent high stakes of his performance tonight. “In the end, I have to find a way.”
Hiller was pulled for Andersen late in the first period Friday, but Andersen was later hit by Nashville defenseman Shea Weber and reported a headache that forced Hiller back in for the third period, when he stopped all eight shots.
Afterward, team leaders Ryan Getzlaf and Francois Beauchemin said the fault didn’t lie with Hiller, but was a “team-wide defensive issue.”
“Nice to know they don’t blame me and I’m not blaming anyone else,” Hiller said. “That’s what makes a good team.
“Sometimes all you need is one good game, save some shots early. That’s easier than when you don’t feel like you’re in the game.”
Andersen didn’t make the trip to Canada for precautionary reasons and should practice Tuesday, Boudreau said, with minor-league phenom John Gibson, 20, summoned.
“We don’t often go back-to-back with the goalies, and certainly want to see Gibson … it depends on how ‘Hilly’ plays and the end result,” Boudreau said. “We have all the faith in the world in ‘Gibby,’ think he’s going to be a superstar. At the same time, it’s his first year.”
COMEDIC BREAK: In a morning discussion with reporters during which Boudreau stoically lamented the Ducks’ recent trend of falling behind in games -- with Winnipeg, Edmonton and Nashville jumping to 4-0, 2-0 and 3-0 leads -- Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf stuck the butt end of his hockey stick in the scrum as if it were a microphone and asked a question.
“How are you going to play Corey Perry tonight?” Getzlaf asked Boudreau of his first-line mate who has a team-best 41 goals to rank second in the NHL.
“I’m going to play him a lot and hope the center gets him the puck,” Boudreau answered.
“That sounds like a good plan,” Getzlaf responded.
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