Monday night, the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks met for the second time in three days in a back-to-back series in St. Louis. After a decisive 6-2 victory on Saturday (Nov. 19), the Blues looked to continue their winning streak before their three-game road trip. However, the Ducks came out strong in hopes of splitting their trip to St. Louis.
Here are three takeaways from the Blues’ victory over the Ducks as they extended their winning streak to seven games.
Blues’ Defense Exposed in Dominant 1st Period by Ducks
The Blues had to make an adjustment in their defensive pairings with the team getting defenseman Colton Parayko back in the lineup, but losing Torey Krug to injury that morning during practice. The 31-year-old Krug has been one of the top point-producing defensemen this season scoring three goals and 13 points over 17 games. While Parayko is a welcomed addition back into the lineup, there is still a concern that his three-game absence could be stemming from a previous back injury. He missed 21 games in Feb. 2021 and his injury will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
The Blues struck fast, needing only 11 seconds to get on the board when Noel Accairi scored his fourth goal of the season. However, the Ducks took to the challenge and controlled the remainder of the first period, managing to tie the game with 18 seconds left on a goal by defenseman Cam Fowler that deflected off of Blues defenseman Nick Leddy. When the buzzer sounded, the Blues managed a 32.35% Corsi rating as they were outshot by the Ducks 15-8. They skated off to their dressing room fortunate to have only allowed one goal thanks to the brilliant performance of goaltender Jordan Binnington.
Gibson Prevents Blues From Taking Lead in the 2nd
The Blues did all they could to turn the tides in the second period but were countered by a brick wall named John Gibson. The home team looked more comfortable in the middle frame flipping the script and controlling 67.74% of puck possession, outshooting the Ducks 10-7, and registering six high-danger shots. However, it was Gibson who kept his team in the game, including a power play breakaway by Jordan Kyrou 44 seconds into the period.
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The Ducks continued to battle, trying to build off their first-period success and their last-minute goal. However, like his counterpart at the other end, Binnington kept his team in the game. But, it was not just Binnington that provided timely saves in the crease as forward Josh Leivo also made a kneeling save behind his goaltender during a scrum in front of the net that kept the game tied at one heading into the third period.
During the second period, the Blues got a slight scare as forward Pavel Buchnevich exited due to an injury after blocking a shot. They are already without six players on their roster, including forward Vladimir Tarasenko who is currently out due to illness.
Faulk Powers Blues to 7 Straight Wins
The final 20 minutes of play began, and the Blues took their first penalty of the game, offering the Ducks the opportunity to take the lead for the first time. After allowing a power play goal in four straight games, the Blues managed to kill off two consecutive penalties in the first 10 minutes of the period. Entering the game, they ranked 29th in the NHL with a 70.7% penalty kill, a statistic that will need to drastically improve if they wish to contend with the top-ranked teams across the league.
As the period died down, defenseman Justin Faulk prevented a goal by swatting the puck out of mid-air. The play shifted to the offensive zone, and the roar from the fans echoed throughout the Enterprise Center as the fans wanted a tripping call on Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk after a toe-drag by Kyrou. While there was no call on the play, they eventually got their third power play opportunity with 5:38 left in the game on a tripping call against Dmitry Kulikov.
The home team continued their push and an all-out assault on the Ducks, finally cracking through their defense as Faulk scored on the man advantage with 4:13 left in the period. They sealed the victory with 19 seconds remaining when Acciari added his fifth goal of the season and second goal of the night by scoring on an Anaheim empty-net. The third period was a gritty, hard-fought effort by the Blues showcasing a true blue-collar type victory.
The Blues will now head out East on a four-game road trip that will kick off against former prospect Tage Thompson and the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday at 6 pm CST. They still have plenty to improve upon, namely the penalty kill and their play in the defensive zone, as they set their eyes on another Stanley Cup run.
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.