If the Mighty Ducks’ game Friday afternoon was going to be a replay of a previous Duck-Blackhawk game, goalie Guy Hebert wanted it to be more like the one last month than the one the day after Thanksgiving last year.
Hebert made sure he got it his way, making 27 saves in a 2-0 victory over Chicago before 17,174 at the Pond of Anaheim. It was the 11th shutout of his career and his second in less than a week.
The score was identical to the one in an Oct. 9 game at Chicago, but the shutout in that game belonged to backup goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov. That means the Blackhawks--who are scuffling along with one victory in their last eight games--haven’t scored against the Ducks this season.
The game Hebert wanted to avoid repeating was last year’s post-Thanksgiving matinee, a disastrous outing in which a 4-1 third-period lead turned into a 5-4 overtime loss.
“It was sweet revenge for Guy,” Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. “That was a tough one for Guy last year. He let in three or four long shots in the third period and overtime.”
Hebert didn’t let in any Friday, and has given up only six goals in the last five games, recording a .959 save percentage and a 1.18 goals-against average. The Ducks are 3-1-1 in that stretch, including a shutout against San Jose last Saturday.
Though he might like to forget last year’s collapse against the Blackhawks, Hebert hasn’t.
“I remember that quite well,” he said. “I thought about it today. I tried to focus for a full 60 minutes. That game was going well and then got out of control. Those missing points, you look at the end of last year, we could have used them.”
With Hebert’s performance Friday and a strong penalty-killing effort that left Chicago 0 for 5 on the power play, the Ducks needed only one goal to win, and Paul Kariya gave it to them. It was his seventh in 12 games.
Teemu Selanne set up the score when he stole the puck from defenseman Chris Chelios after Chelios picked up a pass meant for Selanne.
But Selanne quickly jumped on Chelios and pried the puck free, creating a two-on-one with Kariya, who took a pass from Selanne in the slot and whipped the puck past goalie Jeff Hackett for a 1-0 lead at 15:03 of the first period.
It isn’t often Chelios is victimized that way.
“Well, it was my pleasure,” Selanne said, smiling. “He’s probably the best defenseman in the league.”
The Ducks got their second goal 4:19 into the second and it was a mass of confusion. With the Ducks on a power play, Kariya threw a point shot toward the goal, and it ended up in the net. The goal was reviewed at length because Brian Bellows and Steve Rucchin both had their sticks questionably high, trying to deflect the shot, but it was ruled a goal, and eventually credited to Rucchin, his fourth.
“Fortunately for us, it was below the crossbar--whoever’s goal it was,” Rucchin said. “I know it did hit my stick. Whether it hit Brian’s before or after, I don’t know. Whoever scored, it doesn’t matter. It was a big goal for us.”
Bellows, recently acquired from Tampa Bay for a sixth-round draft pick, has been a welcome addition because of his savvy, veteran play. He almost gave the Ducks another goal in the second, but Hackett made a terrific glove save.
“I could be on the wrong side of the ESPN play of the day,” Bellows said.
Hebert is in the midst of one of his classic hot streaks, much as he was at the end of last season. He is giving much of the credit to Francois Allaire, the goaltending consultant the Ducks hired shortly after the season started.
“He’s a legend among goalies in the NHL,” Hebert said of Allaire, who has worked with Patrick Roy and Felix Potvin, among others. “Everyone knows of him, either by reputation or personally.
“He’s taught me a lot about the philosophy of goaltending. Things like positioning, and working well instead of just hard. That sounds like an adage, but it means you can dive around and try to stop the puck or work and be in position to see the puck or just stop it with your body.”
Any way he did it, Hebert stopped them all Friday.