Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 3, St. Louis Blues 0
The first ten minutes or so, of the game were more or less controlled by the Ducks, which was a very welcome sign after Friday night's home opener against the Wild where the Ducks were vastly outplayed for about the first 30 minutes. It helped that they got on the board right away. Rickard Rakell's attempted dump in deflected off of the linesman right into the middle of the ice where Matt Beleskey stepped into it and hammered it past Brian Elliott. 1-0 Ducks less than two minutes in.
Seven minutes into the game Corey Perry went off for "interference" because Steve Ott wasn't holding onto his stick. Perry went for a stick lift on Ott at center ice and Ott's stick flew up 30 feet in the air... and somehow that's a penalty. The Blues did get their best chance of the game right at the tail end of that power play. A point shot was blocked right to Jaden Schwartz with a WIDE open net, but Clayton Stoner dove across and got his stick on Schwartz' shot to deflect it out of play or else it would surely have been a tie game.
Following the power play the Blues had a little more life in them and began to get the better of the play. The Ducks were a little bit sloppy in their own end around this time, but it didn't cost them.
Near the end of the period Joakim Lindstrom took an offensive zone interference penalty that eventually gave the Ducks a two goal lead. The scoring play was started from behind the Ducks net by Sami Vatanen making a great pass up to Ryan Getzlaf at center ice. Getzy carried it in passed and to Jakob Silfverberg who laid a drop pass off to Vatanen who smoked it through the screen of William Karlsson and Elliott. 2-0 Ducks, and that's how the first period ended.
The second period was far less eventful, but also started with a good push from the Ducks. There was a little bit of animosity after the whistle that seemed completely unfounded, but really the clock was just ticking down until the last five minutes of the period when the Ducks went on back to back power plays.
Once again, it was an undisciplined offensive zone penalty that cost the Blues as Maxim Lapierre tripped up Andrew Cogliano nearly 200 feet from the St. Louis net. The power play goal once again came from Vatanen, but this time it was mostly wonderful movement from the PP unit that was most responsible for the goal. The Ducks moved the puck around the perimeter and Getzlaf picked it up behind the net as he carried up the wall they umbrella'd it out so Sami could sneak down the near side boards. Gety played catch with Cam Fowler, manning the blueline, and zipped a pass across to Vatanen for a wide open goal.
The Ducks got another power play two minutes later and everyone in the building was looking for Vats to shoot the lights out. Alas, 'twas a jinx and the Ducks were held scoreless with the extra man for the first and only time on the night. But it was nothing to cry about as they entered the final frame with a three goal lead.
Similar to the first two periods, the Ducks came out strong early on. Even leading 3-0 it was a fantastic sign that they were not content just to wind the clock down for the final 20 minutes. BUT that really only lasted about six minutes until the Blues got their second PP of the night from a Ryan Kesler slash on Kevin Shattenkirk. The Ducks killed the penalty and from there on out it was just clear the zone, gain center, dump, change, repeat.
Devante Smith-Pelly had a couple of opportunities in the third, one that came from a St. Louis turnover in the slot and one right off the faceoff, but couldn't cash in.
The Good: Just about everything. This was probably the best and most complete game the Ducks have played all season, since Buffalo doesn't really count (BTW look who's up next on the schedule). After having to rely on some serious luck to hang in against Philly and Minnesota the Ducks came out strong and continued to control the pace of the game until after they were securely ahead.
The Bad: It still came down to the power play and a super lucky bounce for the Ducks to get all of their goals tonight. They have made their bones for the last two seasons being opportunistic. While that's not a bad thing (better than the alternative to be sure) you always have to wonder when it will catch up to them.
The Ugly: Ref baiting is technically against the rules in these recaps, but in such a solid performance there isn't much to complain about so I'll have another go at that insane "interference" penalty against Corey Perry in the first period. Because it's apparently Perry's fault that Steve Ott didn't have a grip on his stick. Whatever....
2nd MVD: Frederik Andersen - It wasn't a particularly busy night for Freddy until the score effects kicked in, but he was the calm, cool, collected, giant positional goalie you expect him to be and he stopped everything that came his way. So you can't ask for anything more.
1st MVD: Sami Vatanen - Between Sami and Ryan Kesler the PP has become a real force to be reckoned with (assuming they can get set up in the zone). His two power play goals obviously made him the standout of the night and both were fantastic examples of why he's so effective with his movement, his passing and a cannon of a shot.
Next Game: Wednesday, October 22nd, 7:30 PM, vs. Buffalo Sabres