VANCOUVER — Ryan Miller acknowledged an ovation from the crowd marking his return to Rogers Arena with a wave moments before Tuesday's opening faceoff.
The veteran then went out and soundly outperformed one of the goalies tabbed with replacing him in the Vancouver Canucks' crease.
Miller made 31 saves to record the 41st shutout of his career, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, and the Anaheim Ducks dismantled Vancouver 5-0.
Signed by Anaheim over the summer to back up John Gibson after three seasons as the Canucks' starter, the 37-year-old Miller was his usual solid self, making timely stops when Vancouver pushed as Anaheim picked up its fifth victory in the last six games.
"I enjoyed my time here immensely," said Miller. "My wife and I have great memories up here. My son was born here, so it's always going to have a big place in our heart beyond just the hockey."
Miller, who had a combined .914 save percentage with the Canucks, bumped his mark up seven points to .935 with the Ducks (19-14-8) while recording his second shutout of the season.
"It's nice to come back," he said. "I just tried to have fun with it."
Anders Nilsson, meanwhile, allowed four goals on 19 shots for Vancouver — including one from behind the goal-line just 56 seconds in — before getting pulled in favour of Jacob Markstrom early in the third.
"You'd like to make every save out there," said Nilsson, who saw his save percentage dip to .900. "First one was definitely on me, that's something I would like to have back.
"I wasn't able to make that extra save."
Getting that extra save has been difficult for the Canucks (16-19-5) over the last month. The goaltending of both Nilsson and Markstrom has dipped considerably, coinciding with an injury-depleted roster that, despite getting defenceman Christopher Tanev back from a groin injury, is now 2-9-1 over its last 12 games.
"A couple goals I didn't like," said Vancouver head coach Travis Green. "I have full confidence in our goaltending, that it'll come around. They haven't been great the last month.
"They'd be the first to admit it. There's been a couple untimely goals."
Rickard Rakell continued his torrid pace with a goal and an assist for the Ducks, while Antoine Vermette, Adam Henrique and Derek Grant also scored. Josh Manson added three assists, and Hampus Lindholm chipped in with two of his own.
"Guys are working hard," said Getzlaf. "We did a good tonight getting pucks to the net, scoring goals, and getting ourselves that cushion."
Making his first start since a 7-5 home loss to Montreal on Dec. 19, Nilsson kept up the trend both he and Markstrom have been guilty of far too often in 2017-18 less than a minute in Tuesday — a bad goal.
Lindholm fired a clearing attempt from his own blue line that Nilsson steered into the path of a hard-charging Henrique, who swooped into the corner and fired a shot from below the goal-line that somehow caromed off the netminder's stick and in for his ninth of the season.
Nilsson recovered to make a couple of nice saves, but the Ducks eventually went up 2-0 against the sleepwalking Canucks when Rakell roofed a quick snapshot for his team-leading 15th at 13:44.
Rakell has now scored in six straight games, a streak that includes seven goals and three assists.
"He's finding the spots," Getzlaf said of his linemate. "It's not like he's scoring from the corner and stuff like that. He's getting in the areas that are allowing me to get him the puck."
Set to begin a stretch of seven games away from home, Vancouver had a bit of a push to start the second.
Alexander Edler hit the post as the home side briefly crowded Miller's crease, but Getzlaf, who missed 19 games earlier this season after taking a puck to the face, tipped his third at the five-minute mark to put the game out of reach.
Anaheim, which weathered its own injury woes earlier this season, managed the rest of the period, with Vancouver's best opportunity coming on a Brock Boeser shot from in tight that Miller blocked with his glove before smothering the rebound.
The Ducks made it 4-0 just 20 seconds into the third on another brain cramp from Nilsson, who stopped the puck at the side of the net for Rakell to collect and feed to Getzlaf, who in turn found Vermette for his eighth.
That would be it for Nilsson's night, but Markstrom, who finished with seven saves, didn't fare much better as Manson charged up the ice on a change and found Grant alone in front of a porous Vancouver defence for his eighth at 7:41 as the Ducks kept their recent hot streak going.
"You've got to put runs together," said Miller. "If you don't put the runs together, you're not going to be a playoff team. It's nice to see."
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
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