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LAst Night's Action: Hiller Coughs Up Ducks Lead

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Washington Capitals defeat Anaheim Ducks 5-4 (OT). This loss cannot be blamed on the Ducks offense. After struggling to generate any sort of offense going 1-4-1 on their last six games (including 1-2-1 on this current road trip), the second “Finnish” line came up big with Andrew Cogliano joining Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.

Of course they did a good job of taking advantage of the charitable gifts from their opponents. Koivu did just that after Dennis Wideman couldn’t get possession of the puck behind the Caps net. Instead Selanne made the pass to Koivu and just like that it was a Ducks 1-0 lead not to mention Koivu’s first goal of the season.

The Caps defensive breakdowns didn’t stop there. After a good shift where the Caps pressured the Ducks maligned defense, the Ducks went the other way during a line change. They in turn got a little bit of pressure on a leaky defense allowing Selanne to get a goal of his own. Selanne got his second of the game for the Ducks 3-0 lead after a great pass by Cam Fowler from the right point midway in the second period.

To blame for the loss: goaltender Jonas Hiller. Joel Ward’s goal at 13:23 in the second period was a bad angle shot that dribbled between Hiller’s legs. Dennis Wideman’s goal three minutes later came after Hiller got caught away from the crease trying to play the puck.

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Things looked settled down when Corey Perry scored the power-play goal midway through the third period for the Ducks 4-2 lead, but a puck that was deflected into the air and lost by Hiller ended up in the net to give the Caps some hope two minutes later.

The Caps in the final minute pulled their goaltender. Despite captain Alexander Ovechkin remaining on the bench after a timeout, Nicklas Backstrom tied the game in the final minute on the 6-on-5 situation. Then in overtime Backstrom connected with a knuckling puck and beat Hiller.

It’s hard to blame Hiller for the last two goals, but the Ducks wouldn’t have been in that situation had he not given up the first three goals. After suffering from vertigo the second half of last season, Hiller will get some latitude as he tries to come back. But he can’t be playing like that too often especially with how competitive the Western Conference is.

Meanwhile the Caps avoided a three-game losing streak and became only the second team of 62 this season to win a game when down by three goals.

Oklahoma City Thunder at LA Lakers 0-0. CANCELLED.