Hudler doesn't enjoy the spotlight much, but he played a major role with a goal and two assists in the Calgary Flames' 3-0 win over the slumping Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
So Hudler got to wear the headgear of honour as his team celebrated another win in what has been a much more successful season than last season when the Flames finished 13th in the Western Conference.
"It's coming from that hard work," Hudler said. "We're painful to play against."
Karri Ramo stopped 26 shots, and T.J. Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary (15-8-2). Ramo earned his fourth straight win and second consecutive shutout.
"Ramo right now is in a zone. He sees pucks, and I think his positioning is flawless," Flames coach Bob Hartley said.
Hudler's team-leading 11th goal came on a power play at 7:13 of the third. Hudler controlled a loose puck that bounced high in front of him and caromed the shot past goalie Devan Dubnyk amid traffic in front.
"That is the best we have seen of Jiri Hudler," Hartley said. "The veterans leading by example, they are getting rewarded."
The Coyotes went with Dubnyk over No. 1 goalie Mike Smith, who hasn't won in three weeks and has only four wins this season. Dubnyk made 26 saves, but the Coyotes (9-12-3) lost their fifth straight at home and fourth in five overall.
Arizona has scored only 12 goals in its last seven games and has gone 112 consecutive minutes without a goal.
Gaudreau scored 4:07 into the third period, with Mark Giordano and Hudler getting assists. Giordano leads the Flames with 19 assists and 25 points this season.
Brodie one-timed a shot high and past Dubnyk at 4:34 of the second to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. Brodie took a cross-ice pass from Hudler and had no one but Dubnyk to beat.
The Flames received a four-minute power play just 59 seconds into the game when Mikkel Boedker high-sticked Calgary centre Josh Jooris in the face. But Dubnyk stopped three shots during the penalty kill.
"It's tough when you take four minutes," Coyotes forward Brandon McMillan said. "Takes a lot of guys out of the game to start the game, and it seemed like we couldn't get our legs after that."
Dubnyk, cheered when it was announced before the game that he would start, stopped a breakaway by Gaudreau at 7:04 of the first. He made 13 saves in the scoreless opening period.
The Coyotes had three shots in the first but rebounded with 15 in the second, yet couldn't solve Ramo.
Their best chance was a wrist shot by Martin Erat at 10:43 of the second that Ramo stretched out to snag with his glove.
"We had to play fast and we had to play with poise and make good plays with the puck," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We didn't do a lot of either."
NOTES: The Coyotes are 9-2 at home against Calgary since the start of the 2009-10 season. ... Tippett coached his 400th game with the Coyotes. He is the fifth active NHL coach to reach that milestone with his current team. ... Rookie Brendan Shinnimin, called up from Portland of the AHL on Friday, made his NHL debut. ... Arizona's power play is 0-for-21 at home in the past six games. ... Flames D Ladislav Smid returned to Calgary for personal reasons. ... Jooris was out for much of the first period but returned to the ice in the final two minutes. ... F Brandon Bollig took a puck to the face early in the third period, but quickly returned to the bench. "That's the kind of commitment that we're getting from everyone," Hartley said. ... Gaudreau sported a Calgary Stampeders cap after the game, as the Flames have rallied behind their Canadian Football League mates, who will play for the Grey Cup championship on Sunday. ... The Flames will host Arizona on Tuesday in their next game.