Chart courtesy www.war-on-ice.com
After having been shut out by the Ducks in Anaheim less than two weeks ago, it didn't take the Blues long to get on the score sheet tonight. Only four and a half minutes in, Carl Gunnarsson's point shot deflected twice on it's way to the net, first of of Devante Smith-Pelly then off of Alex Steen in front of the net past John Gibson to open the scoring for St. Louis. With three of their top six forwards (Paul Stastny, David Backes and T.J. Oshie) out with injuries, scoring first was the best thing that could happen to the Ken Hitchcock coached Blues.
Right off the ensuing faceoff, however Emerson Etem cut to the middle of the ice for a good chance on goal that Jake Allen was equal to. The second blow of the period came when Mark Fistric suffered an upper body injury, in a seemingly innocuous play and was not able to return to the game, forcing the Ducks to play with only five defensemen for about 47 minutes.
Shortly after Fistric left the game, Dany Heatley had a couple of whacks at the puck right in the Blues' crease, but was unable to tie the game up. The Ducks killed a penalty to Rickard Rakell to finish the period, trailing 1-0 but leading the shots on goal 13-9.
The Ducks had a power play opportunity early on in the period, but couldn't get much going on it. Their best chance never got on net, when DSP slid a pass right into the wheelhouse of Matt Beleskey in the slot, but Bels whiffed on it completely. Even with the power play, it took the Ducks nearly seven minutes to get a shot on goal in the second.
The play in the middle of the period was fairly evenl, until St. Louis got a power play of their own and looked much more dangerous than the Ducks. The Anaheim kill was only able to clear once, and that actually turned into one of the best chances for the Blues when Alex Steen zipped a stretch pass to Tarasenko behind all the defenders, but he missed high on the short side.
After that, the Ducks had a nice little push, but it was mostly by the fourth line of Rakell, Etem and Tim Jackman. In fact it should be a pretty good indication of how the game was going that, one of the better chances of the night for the Ducks came during this stretch from Jackman.
The Ducks only managed four shots on net in the second period and while St. Louis only got seven of their own, the rest of the way it was pretty much all Blues.
The final period started off on a bad note (no pun intended) for the Ducks, when only two minutes in Cam Fowler fanned on a breakout pass, only two minutes in, turning the puck over to Maxime Lapierre right in the slot. The former Duck teed it up for tough guy Ryan Reeves who wristed it past the glove of Gibson to double the Blues' lead.
The Ducks had one great chance to get back into the game, with plenty of time on the clock. About halfway through the period Dmitrij Jaskin took a holding penalty behind the Ducks' net and during the kill, Jay Bouwmeester cleared the puck over the glass to give the Ducks a 5-on-3 for 20 seconds. Just as the two man advantage ended, the puck popped free for Corey Perry right in front of the net, but Allen stopped him twice before the net was knocked off. The rest of the PP didn't go well and the last 30 seconds or so was negated by an Anaheim too many men call.
Between the end of the abbreviated St. Louis power play and the time that Boudreau pulled Gibson for the extra attacker, the Blues pretty much played keep away with the puck, refusing to allow the Ducks any time of possession.
Anaheim did have several chances with their net empty, but it was too little too late and Jake Allen was able to keep the clean sheet, closing out the game on the penalty kill with a 2-0 win.
Good: Despite the loss, John Gibson had another solid outing. He didn't have to make as many highlight reel saves (or as many saves in general) as Tuesday night in Chicago, but he kept the team in the game all the way through and neither goal can really be blamed on him.
Bad: The fact that the best thing I could come up with was that Gibson was decent is a pretty bad sign for this game. With eight giveaways and nine takeaways by the Blues, the Ducks just didn't do enough to hang onto the puck. Against a solid possession team like the Blues (third in the league with 55.99% FF) who were holding a lead for the vast majority of the game, the Ducks were way too sloppy.
Ugly: Two goals in the past three games, and really one of any consequence, as Beleskey's goal against San Jose came well after the result was decided. The Ducks are starting to find out exactly why it's such a bad idea to rely on one incredibly hot goal scorer, in Corey Perry, so heavily. The top line has stopped producing and so has the team.
3rd Icehole: Vadimir Tarasenko - Even though he ended up without any points, it seemed like every time he was on the ice he was dangerous, driving the net, weaving in and out of defenders. He's just a fun player to watch.
2nd Icehole: Alex Steen - That line with Tarasenko and rookie Jori Lehtera seems to be what is keeping the Blues afloat with all of the injuries they've suffered recently. Steen worked really well with Tarasenko specifically and gets the edge because the puck went in off of his ass or whatever.
1st Icehole: Jake Allen - As rough as it was for the Ducks, they did have their chances to get back in this game and Allen stood strong when he needed to, making good saves in tight, specifically on Heatley, Perry and late in the game when the Ducks had Gibson pulled.
Next Game: Friday, October 31, 2014 @ Dallas 5:30 PM PT