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Ducks Hold On to 4-3 Lead For First Win of 2015

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Matt Baleskey got his team-leading 16th goal of the season and game winner to earn the Ducks a regular season series win over the Blues.

"SWERVE!"—Matt Beleskey probably
"SWERVE!"—Matt Beleskey probably
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Ducks 4, Blues 3

Corsi Chart 1-2-15
Chart via naturalstattrick.com.

First Period

This game marked the return of Kyle Palmieri meaning we have a full healthy lineup *applause.*  Devante Smith-Pelly, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry started the game with Frederik Andersen in net. Martin Brodeur was the starter for St. Louis. It was really weird to see Brodeur in the Blues uniform, but his mask was pretty cool in a less flashy type of way:

Brodeur Mask

The Ducks won the opening draw but iced the puck after being unable to make a smooth transition into the offensive zone. Ryan Kesler was on a line with Matt Beleskey and Palmieri. On their first shift together Palmieri slid the puck into the crease but Kesler got tied up and couldn't take the shot.

The Ducks took the first penalty of the game, a holding the stick call against Devante Smith-Pelly.  T.J. Oshie was stopped by Andersen in front of the net on the power play. Still shorthanded, Jakob Silfverberg received a pass from Cogliano but was stopped by Brodeur. Kesler got a shorthanded shot in before the Ducks killed the penalty in the St. Louis zone.

Perry drew an interference penalty off the ensuing faceoff for the Ducks' first of the night. Sami Vatanen shot the puck low into Brodeur's pads and Perry tried to shove the puck between Brodeur's legs but he held it for the whistle. The Ducks won the faceoff and cycled the puck behind the net. The puck came out to Vatanen who fired another shot that generated a rebound for Getzlaf. The NHL's first star for the month of December didn't miss a wide open side of the net and scored the first Ducks goal of the new year and his 13th of the season. (*GASP* a PPG!!!)

St. Louis started to pick up the pace and the Ducks were having trouble clearing players out of the crease area. Palmieri took a boarding penalty after shoving Ian Cole into boards from a few feet away and the Blues went on the power play for the second time in the period. Oshie was taking all of the power play shots and his first one went off Andresen's shoulder. Andersen was caught sliding out of his net with Jori Lehtera circling the net. Lehtera couldn't score on the wrap around with Hampus Lindholm keeping the puck out just enough for Freddie to recover and pounce on it.

Perry and Getzlaf started to really look like they were clicking again which is awesome to see. The fourth line with Patrick Maroon and Tim Jackman was cycling really well too. The fourth line managed to generate a few good chances for Maroon and Francois Beauchemin who were both stopped by Brodeur. Brodeur would make another amazing save on Kesler and Beleskey. Andersen gloved a Tarasenko shot, which was the best chance for the Blues of the period. The Blues started to take over and tied the shots on goal.

Clayton Stoner and Ryan Reaves got in a fight after Reaves (cleanly) hit Getzlaf. Reaves crushed Stoner and sat on him which was pretty hilarious. Kesler's speed earned him a partial breakaway but he fired it right into the mask of Brodeur. David Backes got a breakaway going the other way after slipping by Beauchemin, but he fanned on his shot. Rushing down to the other end was Getzlaf who was stopped by Brodeur. The period would end with the Ducks up 14-12 in shots and 1-0 on the scoreboard.

Second Period

The Ducks started the period strong with cycle plays, but they didn't get any shots on goal right away. The Blues took a long shot that Andersen booted out to Kesler. Kesler set up Beleseky at the other end, but Brodeur made a nice glove save to deny Beleskey. Going the other way, Alexander Steen fired a puck into Andersen's pad and Oshie slamed the rebound home for a tie game.

Cogliano got a pass from Silfverberg but Brodeur followed him around the net, and Cogs couldn't bank a shot in. Kesler, Palmieri and Beleskey were the best line thus far and were cycling the puck really well. They seem to know where everyone is on the ice at all times, and their speed allowed them to get a ton of chances in this game. Kesler was checked to the ground on one of these cycles but was able to swing a pass to Palmieri who tiped it in behind Brodeur. Ducks lead 2-1.

Kevin Shattenkirk scored on the very next shift after Stoner turned the puck over in the corner.  But it wasn't entirely Stoner's fault as Shattenkirk still had to make a really nice move around Sami Vatanen before beating Andersen up high to tie it back at two.

Beleskey and Palmieri got another chance after a Kesler faceoff win, but it was stopped by Brodeur. Steen slashed Vatanen's stick in half and Vatenen got the call this time. The power play, however could not get going at all and was continually denied entry into the zone. Rickard Rakell got the first shot of the power play with 10 seconds remaining on it. The power play ended but the Ducks kept the puck down low. Nate Thompson fought off Barrett Jackman and passed to Cogliano who ACTUALLY SCORED A GOAL. The curse is broken!!! 3-2 Ducks.

Beauchemin tripped up Patrick Berglund and St. Louis got its third power play of the game. Thompson broke his stick but managed to hold up Tarasenko on the Blues' best chance of their power play. While still shorthanded, Vatanen cleared the puck all the way over the glass [Ed. Note: Rusty Salei style -CK] at the other end resulting in a delay of game penalty. The Blues had 1:20 of five-on-three time. Steen scored on a one-time blast form the dots for 3-3 tie on a perfect setup. Andersen had no chance being screened by Backes.

1:12 of power play time remained for St. Louis. Andersen was caught scrambling in the crease but still managed to stop a flurry of shots among bodies and hold the puck for a faceoff. Lindholm rushed up ice with Kesler shorthanded and was crosschecked in front of Brodeur, knocking him over and the net off it's moorings.

Getzlaf got Palmieri in behind the St. Louis D off a bank pass, but Palmieri fired the rolling puck over the net and out of play. The period ended with St. Louis leading in shots 30-21 and the score tied at three.

Third Period

Just a minute in and the teams already exchanged long-range shots. Paul Stastny fired a backhand shot on Andersen who held on. Kesler, Palmieri and Belsekey bounced shots off Brodeur at the other end. The speed of the game started picking up fast.

Smith-Pelly was tripped by Lehtera and the Ducks went on the power play. While on the power play Beauchemin fired the puck a couple times into Steen, breaking his stick. Kesler shot the puck into Brodeur but a rebound was laying for Palmieri who poked the puck just wide of the post. The power play failed after that chance.

Alex Pietrangelo shot the puck from the point and a rebound was laying in the crease that was swiftly cleared by Ben Lovejoy. The Ducks rushed up ice with Palmieri blasting the puck off the shaft of Brodeur's stick. Barrett Jackman was caught hanging onto Tim Jackman's leg after the whistle and the two exchanged face washes. No penalties came of the play.  Rakell, for the second straight game, continued to impress me with a few toe-drag moves into the zone, but neither of them turned into good scoring chance.

Just past he halfway mark of the period, as the puck was vacating the St. Louis zone, Vatanen made a beautiful pass to Beleskey who stayed onside and scored between the arm and the body of Brodeur for his team-leading 16th goal of the season and a 4-3 lead.

Coglinao was pulled down by Stastny and the Ducks pulled Freddie for the extra attacker. The Ducks went offside with the extra man and on the power play. The power play literally could not function and didn't get any shots. They couldn't even enter the zone at all. The penalty was killed but the Ducks won offensive-zone faceoff and shoved the puck into the crease. Brodeur layed on the ice and the Blues were able to clear the puck just in time.

After an icing call on the Blues, Perry got a pass from Getzlaf but whiffed on the shot. Later, Silfverberg poked the puck away from the blueline and had a partial breakaway that was stopped by Brodeur. St. Louis pulled Brodeur with just under two minutes remaining. Fowler got to the loose puck and cleared it to neutral ice. Backes came off the bench and played the puck. The call on the ice was too-many-men-on-the-ice and the Ducks survived the flurry to go on the power play. The Ducks didn't score on the power play but managed to hold on for the 4-3 victory.

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The Good: The Ducks started the year off right with a win against a great Blues team. The power play chipped in with a goal and the penalty kill was solid, especially against a top power play team. Corey Perry was clearly feeling better and looked like his old self. The line of Beleskey, Kesler and Palmieri is awesome and should never be broken up. The three just seem like they have been playing with each other for years and had the majority of chances in the game. Having this line together and a full lineup for once was great. The fourth line of Maroon, Rakell and Jackman is useful as a grinding line with some upside offensively. They worked well to hold the puck down low in the St. Louis zone tonight. The best part of the game had to be Cogliano's goal since he's had such an unlucky first half of the season.

The Bad: The Ducks still took a bunch of penalties in this game, and this time they were all deserved. They didn't lose it completely like last game, but they can't be taking five to six penalties a night against good teams and expect to win. The team never let up on the kill and seemed to adapt well to changes made by St. Louis. The five-on-three was as perfect a setup as you can get so that goal against wasn't too hard to accept. Vatanen should not have fired the puck that hard down the ice trying to get an offensive chance on a breakaway though.

The Ugly: There wasn't anything that stood out that was totally horrible. The penalties need to stop though.

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3rd MVD: Andrew Cogliano - Shoutout to Cogliano for finally scoring. He played a pretty solid game and was in the right place at the right time for Thompson to slide him a pass for the goal. The goal put the Ducks ahead in the game for the third time but it wasn't the game winner.

2nd MVD: Sami Vatanen - made a ton of great defensive plays in this game. He was effective on the power play and the penalty kill. His pass to Beleskey was amazing as well. If he had a more reliable partner to play with he could jump up on the rush even more. Sami is one of my favorite Ducks to watch, especially in games like this where there are a lot of back and forth chances.

1st MVD: Kyle Palmieri - scored in his return to the lineup and completed our second line. Playing with Kesler has really improved his offensive opportunities. He's fast and able to control the puck down low. A couple of times Palmieri could have scored on the wrap around. When he is on the ice the entire line seems to skate faster. If they can stay healthy, this line will do great things for the Ducks in the second half of the season.

Next game: Sunday, January 4th vs. Nashville Predators (Country Night) at 5:00 PST.