Ducks turn net into a revolving door for Frederik Andersen, Jonas Hiller

Ducks turn net into a revolving door for Frederik Andersen, Jonas Hiller
Ducks trainer Joe Huff talks with injured goalie Frederik Andersen in the third period of Game 3 against the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Frederik Andersen gets surprise start in goal for Ducks, but he gets injured and Hiller steps in////The net remains a place of intrigue for Ducks as Andersen gets surprise start, but Hiller finishes

The trickery began seven hours before game time, during the Ducks' morning skate.


Normally, the starting goalie leaves the ice first. So when Jonas Hiller retired to the locker room, it seemed he would remain the top guy.

But when it comes to the Ducks and goaltending this season, nothing is that simple.

Frederik Andersen got the surprise start in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Kings, then got injured midway through the third period and gave way to Hiller.

Consider it another twist in a back-and-forth saga for the Ducks' goalies, the two of them adding up to one big 3-2 victory at Staples Center on Thursday night.

"From being on the bench, watching the game, you suddenly have to focus, stop the puck," Hiller said. "I was happy it worked out and we finally were able to get a win."

Hiller and Andersen have traded places in the net several times since the playoffs began, which can be seen as either confusing or a luxury.

Before this series began, Coach Bruce Boudreau insisted that whoever is in the game will "do a great job. I always have confidence in the goalies we put in."

Hiller was the starter through the regular season but faltered down the stretch. Enter Andersen, who started against Dallas in the first round of playoffs.

The younger goalie performed well but struggled on the road, losing twice and getting pulled late in Game 6. Hiller came back in to stop 12 shots as the Ducks rallied for a series-clinching victory.

"We have a lot of confidence in both those guys," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "They're exceptional."

Add one more complexity: Andersen fell sick before that last game against Dallas. When the team returned to Southern California to prepare for the second round, his illness lingered.

So Boudreau stuck with Hiller and the Ducks were quick to deflect any criticism of their veteran starter through close losses in the first two games against the Kings.

"Jonas was not the issue the first two games," Lovejoy said. "He was not the reason we lost."

Maybe it was a numbers game that landed Andersen back in goal for Game 3.

Coming into the game, Hiller was 0-5-2 in Staples Center — hardly a confidence-inspiring statistic. Andersen, on the other hand, had won both his games in Los Angeles this season.

On March 15, he stopped 37 of 38 shots in a 2-1 victory. A month later, he stopped 27 of 30 shots as the Ducks won 4-3 in a shootout.

Thursday night, Anderson looked solid if not spectacular through 50 minutes. But then he went down in a scrum around the net, suffering a "lower-body injury," according to team officials.

With no time to warm up, Hiller stopped Carter and Marian Gaborik, gave up a late goal to Mike Richards and earned the win, just like in the closer against Dallas.

"You always have mental challenges as a goalie but it seems that this season is a little more special," he said.

As for Game 4, Andersen has been listed as "day to day."

Which puts the Ducks back in a familiar position, with no one sure who will start in goal.