Since the season began, all eyes have been on the Blackhawks. From their record-breaking 24-game point streak to their ability to maintain the lead in the Western Conference, the team has yet to shed the target on their backs.
As the frenzy continued in Chicago, the Anaheim Ducks flew under the radar. That southern California team that trailed closely behind as the No. 2 seed was a mere second thought. But the Ducks made their own case against the Blackhawks, sealing a 2-1 win on Friday night and completing a sweep against the league's most talked about team.
"[The Blackhawks are] a good team, and it's good we have a little success against them in the regular season," Anaheim defenseman Sheldon Souray said after scoring the game-winning goal Friday night. "We've got a lot of hockey left, they're the team that's on top and we're chasing them. Everyone's chasing them. We're really chasing them, so it's a good win."
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Prior to Friday's game, the Ducks were 10-0-2 when holding a lead going into the third period. This matchup was no different, as they earned two points after holding a 1-0 lead with 20 minutes left in the game.
"I think our goalie was the star, he was the difference-maker in the game," Souray said about teammate Jonas Hiller, who earned his eleventh win of the season. "When we win it's usually because our goalies have been awesome."
And that win was something the Ducks had been searching for since last meeting the Blackhawks just 10 days prior. They went 0-4 against the Red Wings and Sharks, and the gap between the Western Conference's top two teams began to grow. But now the Ducks believe that Friday's win is enough to get them back on track.
"There wasn't a lot of confidence, we lost four in a row, so beating the No. 1 team in the league, that's what we needed right now," said Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. "Penalty killing was good, goaltending was exactly what we were waiting for, I didn't really see us have any big problems tonight.
"[The Blackhawks] are dangerous, it's hard to play well [on defense], so it's a good feeling to win."
[PGL Plus: Inside the Blackhawks' loss, playoff prospects vs. Ducks]
Hiller's performance undoubtedly played a big part in Anaheim's win, but the goaltender credited his team's strong efforts to coming out on top.
"I know I can't win the game myself… we need everybody. Nobody was happy after the last game (against the Sharks), I know I wasn't happy with the way I played and I don't think many guys were," Hiller said. "We knew we had to play better and we proved that if everybody plays at 100 percent, we have a chance to win against anybody."
Now the beat goes on for both the Blackhawks and Ducks, who still have plenty of hockey to play before the playoffs begin. As grateful as Anaheim was to come out with the win, the team is ready to put it in the books and focus on closing in on Chicago's three-point lead in the standings.
"Right now we're happy to get on the winning side again and we'll take these points. Now I'm more worried about the next few games," Hiller added. "It's nice to get a win here and have a good feeling about the next few games coming up."