Sports

Ducks can't find the net in loss to Stars

SportsAnaheim DucksNHLDan EllisDallas StarsDavid SteckelTrevor Daley

Instead of fretting about facing the NHL's best team, Dallas Stars goalie Dan Ellis reflected back upon his time as the Ducks' backup.

"Anytime you've played with friends and in a building … you enjoy yourself out there, can joke around with the guys between a play," Ellis said. "That keeps you a little bit looser … always fun to come back here."

Ellis, who played a combined 23 games as understudy to Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller from 2010 to 2012, became the first man in the NHL this season to shut out the league's second-most potent offense by stopping all 26 shots he faced in the Stars' 2-0 victory at Honda Center.

In the game's final minute, Ducks scoring leader Corey Perry moved in from Ellis' left to pursue an opening, but Ellis — the backup to Dallas' Kari Lehtonen — slid his left leg toward the post and deflected the shot.

"The puck bounced right to [Perry], right on his stick, he had an open net," Ellis said. "I just tried to throw my leg back there as quickly as I could. It clicked the top of my pad and went over.

"He's one of those who can score goals at will, fortunate to make that save."

Seconds later, Stars forward Jamie Benn knocked in an empty net goal for the final margin as Dallas handed the Ducks their third loss in four home games after starting 20-0-2 in the building.

Anaheim is 4-4 in its last eight games.

"Right now, it doesn't feel like we have that consistency," Hiller said after stopping 25 of 26 shots. "Seems like we wait, see what's going to happen and then start getting into the game. You can't just always think you're going to come back in the third and win a game."

The Ducks put only six shots on Ellis in the first period and Dallas scored 5 minutes 3 seconds into the second period when defenseman Trevor Daley followed center Cody Eakin's shot that bounced off the leg pad of Hiller directly to a charging Daley, who flicked the puck in the net.

The Ducks' pains to answer were complicated by penalties in the second period by defenseman Luca Sbisa (holding) and Perry (hooking).

Once back at even strength, Ellis' pursuit of his first shutout in his 13th game this season increased in seriousness when he consecutively stopped a Perry shot and follow by center David Steckel, then denied a blast by Ryan Getzlaf.

It was Ellis' first game since Jan. 12.

"I tried to relax," Ellis said. "When you're in a situation like that, you kind of lose your feel for the game. You're trying to battle, find ways to relax. Our guys played fantastic."

Hiller answered his former understudy's feats by slamming his leg against the post to stop Rich Peverley's up-close shot.

Hiller then saved a good look by forward Erik Cole and survived the loud ping of Benn striking the crossbar with 15.5 seconds remaining in the period.

The Ducks had two third-period power plays, but Perry lost his grip on a backhand, Getzlaf struck Ellis in the chest, and then was stopped again in traffic and by his stick deteriorating into pieces on a hard shot in the final six minutes.

Earlier Saturday, the Ducks promoted center David Steckel from minor league Norfolk to replace injured Nick Bonino, who's eligible to return for the Feb. 8 game in Nashville.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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SportsAnaheim DucksNHLDan EllisDallas StarsDavid SteckelTrevor Daley
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