By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal
Fans of the Anaheim Ducks can be forgiven if their faces resemble those twin masks of theater in which one is laughing and one crying. From one night to the next it’s hard to know if the local entry in the National Hockey League is going to play like champions or also-rans.
When we last checked in with the Ducks, they were on a greased slide to the bottom of the Pacific Division, having lost five games in a row before the Thanksgiving break.
The streak reached six after a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday, but since then the Ducks have bounced back with two wins. On Saturday the long-quiet Anaheim offense woke up and scored six goals in a 6-4 victory over the Coyotes in Phoenix.
On Monday the Ducks really got a lift with a 2-0 win over the rival Los Angeles Kings back at Honda Center. Jonas Hiller made 27 saves in getting his seventh career shutout.
The win not only lifted the Ducks’ spirits, it pushed them a point ahead of the Kings in the Pacific Division. The loss was the Kings seventh in eight games.
“We don’t think much about where they are, because we’re only worried about where we’re going,” said Hiller. “A shutout is a nice thing, but we wanted to show we can play better defensively, and we definitely played well.”
The win improved the Ducks’ mark to 12-11-3, good for 27 points and a tie for second in the division. In the all-important conference race, the Ducks are in ninth place in the Western Conference.
The top eight teams make the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Anaheim was back in action Wednesday night (results too late for our deadline) hosting the Florida Panthers at Honda Center. On Friday the Detroit Red Wings are in town, followed by the Coyotes on Sunday. The Ducks will hit the road next Wednesday to visit the Edmonton Oilers.