Frederik Andersen shows staying power in goal for Ducks

Andersen, who played 20 consecutive games, is second in the league in wins

Of all the things expected of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen this season, a streak of 20 consecutive games played was a longshot.

A second-year player who began the campaign in a fierce competition for playing time, who was knocked from the playoffs last season by injury and hurt his leg this Halloween, Andersen is standing tall for the team that began the night tied for the most points in the NHL.

"Big, strong guy," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I don't think [injuries are] going to be part of his resume."

Andersen, 25, is second to Nashville's most-valuable-player candidate Pekka Rinne for most wins in the NHL with 24, and he took a 14-2-1 run to Staples Center for a Saturday game against the Kings that was not complete at press time after the Kings retired Rob Blake's jersey.

It was in Los Angeles on May 8 when Andersen suffered a sprained right knee ligament, missing the remainder of a Western Conference semifinal playoff series the Ducks lost in seven games, ending a rookie campaign in which Andersen was 20-5 as starter Jonas Hiller's backup.

That season was far different from this one, after the Ducks didn't offer a contract to Hiller. John Gibson, the opening game starter, suffered a groin injury. Veteran minor leaguer Jason LaBarbera was brought in, followed by the signing last month of 34-year-old free-agent Ilya Bryzgalov as a backup.

After LaBarbera spelled Andersen following the Halloween leg injury in Dallas, Andersen returned to the net Nov. 7 and played in every game through a Dec. 18 trip to Montreal.

"You get in the habit — a good rhythm," Andersen said. "You're up to it if you're used to it, and that's a good thing — priceless, actually — for experience, because that's what it'll be like in the playoffs.

"Last year, I played 25 games, and then all of a sudden I was in the playoffs every game. It's a big difference. It might seem easy, but it's not."

Nothing illustrated that more than the playoff injury.

Andersen's 2.30 goals-against average and .917 saves percentage fall outside the NHL top 10, but he has a knack for what Boudreau likes most: making the stop that counts the most.

His 44-11-5 record in his first 60 decisions is the best start in league history since Montreal's Bill Durnan won 44 times in 58 games in 1944.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Andersen said the endurance test proved something to himself.

"Once you get into that kind of a groove, you start getting used to it," he said.

He stumbled during the streak, losing consecutive games to Chicago and in San Jose the next night, when he gave up five goals on 19 shots on Nov. 29.

Andersen was pulled from the net again in a 6-2 loss at Toronto on Dec. 16, but practiced diligently the next day in Montreal with goalie coach Dwayne Roloson, and beat the Canadiens by saving 23 of 24 shots Dec. 18.

"I learned from it and I don't make those mistakes anymore," Andersen said. "I relaxed a little more."

The Ducks rested Andersen for Bryzgalov on Dec. 19 in Ottawa, and he's 6-1-1 since, and when he had a rematch with Toronto on Wednesday, he shut them out with 28 saves.

Having Bryzgalov by his side has been a pleasant bonus. The veteran was originally drafted by Anaheim in 2000 and brings humor and experience to the neighboring locker.

"It's interesting. He's funny, has a lot of opinions on everything and is a lot of fun," Andersen said. "It's great to have him for the hockey perspective. He was here when we won the Cup" in 2007.

That's the plan again, with the iron man in net.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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