Jonas Hiller is in a class of his own.
On Sunday night, the Anaheim Duck accomplished something no other NHL goaltender can claim this season: he kept the high-octane Blackhawks scoreless for two-plus periods in Chicago.
Hiller came within four minutes 53 seconds of his second shutout of the season, allowing a Duncan Keith power-play goal to put only a slight damper on a 42-save performance in a 3-1 Ducks victory.
"Hillsie stole the game for us, simple as that," said forward Corey Perry, who gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period with his 18th goal of the season. "Quality scoring chances … they probably had 15 to 20. He came up huge for us."
Hiller and Nashville's Dan Ellis are the lone netminders to hold the Blackhawks to fewer than two goals this season at the United Center, where Chicago is a stellar 20-5-1.
The Blackhawks pulled Antti Niemi for an extra attacker with one minute left in regulation but to no avail as Hiller stood his ground and Teemu Selanne fired an empty-net goal with 25.8 seconds on the clock, his second goal in two nights.
9th win in 12 starts
After posting 25 saves in Saturday's 3-2 win at Nashville, Hiller turned in a near-flawless effort against the highest-scoring team in the West for his 16th win and ninth in his last 12 starts. It was just the second time in eight such situations this season he won back-to-back starts on consecutive nights.
"We've developed something the last few games," Hiller said. "That's what we need to do to get back to the playoffs. If we keep playing like we did tonight, we have a real good chance."
Hiller stopped all 27 shots directed his way through two periods and stopped Patrick Kane twice along with Troy Brouwer as Chicago stormed the Ducks' net at the three-minute mark of the third.
Later in the period, Hiller denied Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews from in close on the power play.
"[Hiller] didn't give up any loose stuff around the net," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "He was smothering a lot of pucks, whether that was a lack of traffic or him being really Velcro-ish."
Saku Koivu also scored for Anaheim, which avenged a 5-2 defeat to the Blackhawks in Chicago a week ago and raised its record to 20-19-7 with a fourth straight win.
Unchecked in the left faceoff circle, he had time to skate in two strides and load up a slapshot that he put over Niemi's shoulder with 3:21 to go in the first period.
The Blackhawks, who missed a chance to build on a two-point lead over idle San Jose atop the Western Conference standings, slipped to 31-11-4. They had scored four of more goals for nine straight games, the longest such streak since the 1993-94 campaign.
It was the first time since Nov. 27-28 that Chicago had dropped two straight games, a span of 21 outings.
The Blackhawks had won four straight games at home since losing to San Jose on Dec. 22 when they outshot the Sharks 47-14. So in their only two losses in their last 11 home games, they had a combined 82-37 advantage.
"It makes it worse," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "You worked that hard and it didn't go your way."
Coming off a 6-5 shootout loss to Minnesota on Saturday in which the Blackhawks blew a 5-1 lead, Chicago was dealt another blow prior to Sunday's contest with news that forward Marian Hossa wouldn't suit up because of a lower-body injury. Defenceman Cam Barker also missed his fourth game in a row.
Keith's goal was his ninth of the season, matching a career high he reached in 2005-06, and extended his points streak to five games. Kane's 11-game point run came to an end.
Chicago outshot the Ducks 43-12, tying its record for fewest shots allowed, most recently against the Minnesota North Stars on Dec. 8, 1991. Anaheim matched a team record for fewest shots, last done on Oct. 22, 1996, against Philadelphia.