Ducks@Blues Recap: Sort of a Deja Vu in St. Louis

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The Ducks experienced a reversal in roles from the Chicago game as they fought to the last seconds to protect their lead.


Final Score: Ducks 3, Blues 2

First Period Recap: Ryan Getzlaf commented that the Ducks play against Chicago by describing them as "look[ing] tired." So despite the back-to-back games, the Ducks came out and played a solid 20 minute first period.

The Ducks learned from yesterday's streak-snapping loss. Though the Blues won off the initial puck drop, the Ducks quickly recovered possession of the puck and wasted no time by getting the first shot on the goal. As we all expected, the game started out a physical one as Corey Perry ended up winded on the bench after taking hard hit during his first shift. But the Ducks came out flying and were first to test Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Tired legs no more!

The Ducks took advantage of the poor passing by the Blues, but they were lucky that at least Elliott stood to the task. He denied both Kyle Palmieri's drive and Saku Koivu's backhand shot on breakaways. Like against Chicago, the solid goaltending would keep both teams alive.

But momentum was clearly on the Ducks’ side. The save on Palmieri's breakaway brought the face-off into the Blues' zone. After the Ducks won the face-off, Perry drew in the defense away from the middle and found an open path down the center for Getzlaf. With that goal, Getzlaf tied his career high of 25 goals.

The Blues took the game’s first penalty when Ian Cole was called for holding Pat Maroon in a battle along the boards. The best chance came when Perry tipped in Cam Fowler's shot just wide of the goal. The power play nearly ended in a shorthanded goal but Hampus Lindholm hustled to retrieve the puck that nearly got away.

In the final minute of the period, Perry almost increased the lead to two, when he shot the rebound off of Fowler's initial shot. But the Blues found themselves with some extra help when his shot clanged against the post.

The Vladimir Sobotka - Patrick Berglund- Vladimir Tarasenko line was the best in applying pressure on the Ducks. Early in the period, Sobotka would shoot, and the Blues would look to crash the net hoping for a rebound. The dying minutes of the period was also filled by dangerous flurry of activity near the goal. But both the defense and Frederik Andersen did a good job of preventing any rebounds from finding the back of the net.

Second Period Recap: Down by one goal, the Blues came into the second period with a greater push. But keep in mind the second period is the Ducks’ b****.

The Ducks first got lucky when Berglund threw a puck from the blue line. Andersen hadn’t seen the puck, but luckily it was found smothered under his pads. Elliott on the other hand, wasn't so lucky….A turnover by the Blues between the blue line and the neutral zone resulted in an odd-man rush by the Ducks. Elliott saw Matt Beleskey’s shot, but unlike with Andersen, the puck trickled through the goaltender. The Ducks found themselves with the dangerous lead of 2-0.

Things get only got worse when Brenden Morrow was called for a tripping penalty, giving the Ducks another crack at the power play. But the hockey gods remain fickle and they turned in the Blues’ favor when they allowed the post to deny Nick Bonino of a goal. Furthermore, Beleskey's hooking penalty on Roman Polak turned the power play into a 4-on-4. Getzlaf nearly had another breakaway but was pushed too low and forced pass a bouncing puck to Andrew Cogliano. However, the remaining Blues powerplay was short-lived.

The Ducks had another chance on the man-advantage after the Blues nearly scored on Andersen. After winning a faceoff in the Ducks’ defensive zone, a save on Alex Steen brought Andersen sprawling out of his net. The ensuing fight and scramble for the puck by both teams resulted in a penalty called on Steen for interfering with Lindholm. They say the third time's the charm for a reason. The Ducks gave amazing effort to keep the puck alive and cycle it through. Specifically Matt Beleskey was just a tough Duck behind and in front of the goal. He lost his helmet while fighting for the puck behind the net but fights his way back to screen Elliott. Fowler riped the pass from Getzlaf right past Elliott.

Like I said, the second period is the Ducks' b****.

Throughout the period, the sound backchecking as well as the forechecking gave the Ducks some great scoring chances. Palmieri had another breakaway after receiving the rebound off Ian Cole's shot. He beat Cole on the breakaway but lost handle of the puck at the very last moment. Elliott robbed Cogliano of a point-blank shot after a  hard-fought battle along the boards.

Tim Jackman's high-stick resulted in a bleeding Schwartz and a four minute penalty kill for the Ducks. Fortunately, the Blues were shortly called for interference and the 4-on-4 play would kill  two minutes of the Blues' power play. The Ducks nearly scored again when a speedy Cogliano created space to find Lindholm for a redirect. Elliott made a great initial save but it was his second save on Koivu's shot off the rebound that had Blues fans standing on their feet.

Andersen did feel some pressure by the same Sobotka line as the period winded down with the Blues getting back the remainder of their man-advantage. But in the end, the Ducks had gained a comfortable three goal lead after the second.

Third Period Recap: The period started off with the Ducks promptly killing the power play. But down three goals at home, the Blues had a sense of urgency. Their forecheck kept the puck in the the Ducks' defensive zone for the majority of the period. On the other hand, Anaheim was content in sitting back and playing more defensively.

With a little less than 11 minutes left, the Blues' work to keep the puck alive finally paid off when Barret Jackman's shot from the blue line got past the Great Dane. The goal gave the Blues the momentum they needed to fight for the win at home.

The Ducks were almost lucky once again when they didn't receive a tripping penalty that caused a breakaway opportunity for Matt Beleskey. Beleskey outskated Jay Boumeester but couldn't get the backhander past Elliott.

Andersen stood on his head to make some big saves despite the scrums in front of his net. T.J. Oshie's shot nearly ended in a rebound goal for Brenden Morrow, but Andersen covered the loose puck up. Tarasenko also fought Lindholm off and took a quick shot but Andersen made the big save. Despite the good goaltending, the inability to clear the puck resulted in a penalty. Bryan Allen took an untimely penalty for holding, and gave the Blues the chance for which they were looking.

Back in the line-up after missing 11 games, Alexander Steen was ready to resume his goal scoring pace. With the man-advantage, Steen did not hesitate to shoot with the Blues looking for a timely rebound. But it was Oshie's pass to Jaden Schwartz in the short corner that gave results. With Andersen cheating off the post, Schwartz was able to find room between the goaltender and the post to cut the lead to one.

With the home team trailing only by one goal, the Ducks finally woke up and attempted  to resume some of their offensive play. The last few minutes were nail-biters. The Blues' forecheck forced the tired Ducks to ice the puck. After taking a time-out, the Ducks still had 1:08 left to defend their one goal lead, with the Blues pulling their goaltender and facing off next to Andersen. Koivu won the draw but the Blues were able to keep the puck in for a little longer, forcing another icing on the Ducks.

With 33.1 seconds left, the Ducks finally chipped the puck out and get the change they desperately needed. The Ducks missed the empty net and the Blues had time for one more rush as Andersen was forced to make one last save on Oshie. With 2.6 seconds left on the clock and one more face-off on the right of Andersen, the Blues had a one shot opportunity to send the game to overtime.

But the puck ended up in the corner and time ran out; the Ducks prevailed and came out of St. Louis with the huge win to get them back where they left off.

**********

The Good: The execution in the defensive zone was fabulous. They made the changes that they need to make after the loss in Chicago. The Blues had a very difficult time trying to get through due to the neutral zone coverage. The Blues tried to make long stretch passes to get through the Ducks defense, but the Ducks capitalized on these opportunities and had numerous breakaways. For the first two periods of the game, Ducks defense did a great job in clearing the puck away from the goal, which prevented the Blues from getting any rebounds. And the blue line did a great job being physical and making it difficult along the boards. The defensive play extends to the success on the penalty kill. With the exception of the last PPG by the Blues, the Ducks did not give up much on the PK.

The Bad: The third period wasn't all too good. If it weren't for Andersen, we might have watched some extra hockey. The Ducks played back and allowed the Blues to come back with two goals. Once again, the inability to clear the zone allowed the Blues to gain the momentum to outshoot and outwork the Ducks. The Blues outshot the Ducks 17-5 in the third period. When they talk about playing a full 60 minutes, that doesn't discount the third period when they are up by three. The Ducks, of all teams, should know about the third period comeback; they just nearly had one the previous day.

The Ugly: All those missed breakaways.  The Ducks had numerous breakaway opportunities, but could not capitalize on any of them. I will give huge props to Elliott for making those big stops. Like Jonas Hiller yesterday, Elliott was the reason why the Blues had the chance to make that last period comeback. If it were not for Elliott and that damn post, the Ducks could have easily come out of the second period leading by five.

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3rd MVD: Ryan Getzlaf must be a Hart Trophy candidate. Whenever he and Corey Perry are on the ice, it's a scary thing for the opposing team. But Getzlaf in particular was tremendous; he tallied a goal and an assist in tonight's game. But with or without the puck, Getzlaf was creating opportunities for the Ducks to score. Defensively, his presence was tremendous on the penalty kill and made it extremely difficult for the Blues to skate through the neutral zone.

2nd MVD: Matt Beleskey was just lights out tonight. Not only did he score the second goal, but it was really his screen that allowed Cam Fowler's shot to get past Elliott. He was all over the place creating havoc among the Blues defense. Even without his helmet, he was able to win the board battle and keep the puck alive during power plays. At one point, the Blues had worn down the Ducks with their relentless forechecking, but it was Beleskey's extra effort that allowed him to tip the puck out of the blue line. He had also a huge breakaway chance in the third. Beleskey played physically but played smart throughout the whole game.

1st MVD: Frederik Andersen isn't called the Great Dane for nothing. His third period performance was the main reason for the Ducks coming out with a win. Despite the somewhat lackadaisical play in the defensive zone, Andersen was there to stop the puck when it really counted. He made 34 saves and withstood a barrage of third period shots with traffic. With the depth scoring on each team, it was inevitable that the game would come down to a battle of goaltending and Andersen came out as the better goaltender in this game.

Next Game: Tuesday, Jan. 21st, 7:00 PM PST vs. Winnepeg Jets back at Honda Center

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