West-leading Blues welcome in Ducks
DUCKS (29-28-10) at BLUES (42-18-7)
TV: KDOC (HD), FS-MW (HD)
Anaheim 5-4-1; St. Louis 7-3-0
Thursday marks the third of four meetings between these Western Conference foes, and the final regular season clash between the teams at Scottrade Center. Each team has earned a 4-2 home win over the other in the season series, as Bobby Ryan paced Anaheim with two goals on Oct. 16 before T.J. Oshie
reeled off a pair of his own in a St. Louis victory on Dec. 8. The Ducks and Blues will close out their season set on March 21 at Honda Center.
This Western Conference showdown features a pair of teams that have put together remarkable turnarounds this season. St. Louis' 6-7-0 start to the campaign is a distant memory as Ken Hitchcock's squad moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. The Ducks, meanwhile, stand only six points out of the final playoff spot in the West after facing a 20-point gap on Jan. 6.
Anaheim has had two days off after earning 4-2 win on home ice over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The game was tied heading into the third period, but the Ducks' offense rose to the occasion with three goals in the final frame -- two by Corey Perry -- to come out on the better end of a must-win contest.
Despite being outshot 22-8 in the second period by the team with the League's second-worst record, the Ducks found a way to squeak out an important victory, reviving their playoff hopes in the process.
"It was probably our worst period of the year," Perry told NHL.com. "We put it behind us and battled back in the third period and got the job done."
St. Louis clicked on all cylinders in its 5-1 win over division rival Chicago, marking the team's sixth triumph in seven games. The Blues scored twice in the third period to build an insurmountable lead, outshooting the Blackhawks by a 31-20 margin on the night. Jaroslav Halak
complemented his team's strong outing by stopping 19 of 20 shots to extend his personal win streak to six.
With the win, the Blues improved to an astounding 34-0-0 when scoring three goals or more on the season.
"For us, we work and we feel like, if we work, we're going to win, and when we don't work, we get angry," Hitchcock told NHL.com. "It's not just coaches mad at players, it's players pushing players, it's everybody pushing each other. We want to be proud of our work ethic. We feel like if our work ethic is at the top of the heap, we have a chance to beat anybody."
Perry has posted 3 goals and 1 assist over his last two games. … Andy McDonald
has 5 goals in his last four games for St. Louis.
The Ducks are still without Dan Ellis (torn groin), who has been out since early January. … For the Blues, Matt D'Agostini
(concussion), Alex Steen
(concussion), Kent Russell (concussion) and Jamie Langenbrunner
(foot) are all expected to miss Thursday's game against Anaheim. Kent Huskins
(bruised hand) is doubtful for the game.
The Ducks have posted the League's second-best point total (42) since Jan. 1. Only St. Louis, with 44 points since the turn of the calendar year, has been better than Anaheim over that stretch.
"We were just talking about how amazing -- when you think how old the NHL is -- and [Selanne] is 19th highest scoring in the history of the League," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times after Teemu Selanne reached 1,398 career points on Monday, tying him with Jari Kurri for the 19th-best total in League history. "That pretty well says it all. He's a pretty special player and a first-ballot Hall of Famer."