Blues rely on power play in win over skidding Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have one of the NHL's worst power-play units. Except when it comes to facing the Anaheim Ducks.
The Blues converted on all three of their chances with the man advantage in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the last-place Ducks.
“I thought (assistant coach Jim Montgomery) and the players really broke down how we were going to attack Anaheim’s penalty kill,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “These low plays around the net were open and they did a good job and took advantage of it.”
Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford each had a goal for St. Louis, which is 6 for 10 with the man advantage against Anaheim this season. Overall, the Blues have scored on just 17.1% of their power plays — which ranks 24th in the NHL.
“It has been a long time coming now. Hopefully we can keep this momentum on the power play going,” said Torey Krug, who assisted on the first two goals. “Our attack mentality was a lot better. If we know it is coming toward the net we can converge.”
Anaheim came into the game seventh in the league in killing penalties but dropped to 10th after the game. Six of the 12 power-play goals the Ducks have allowed have been to the Blues.
“It seems like a moving target. You plug one hole and something else starts leaking,” coach Dallas Eakins said.
Jordan Binnington made 27 saves for St. Louis, which has won all four meetings against the Ducks this year and six of their last seven dating to last season.
Binnington returned to the Blues’ net after giving up four goals in 31 minutes last Saturday at San Jose. When he was pulled, he lost his composure and went after three San Jose players before leaving the ice.
“I think he knew coming in after what happened last game that he wanted to step up and be the leader that he is for our team and be our backbone. Tonight he got the result and played great,” Krug said.
Binnington's postgame availability was the first time he has spoken publicly since the San Jose game. When asked what prompted his outburst, the netminder had a succinct answer: “I was (ticked) off.”
"Special teams all around was good tonight. We did a good job battling. A lot of scrambles in front and for the most part went our way,” said Binnington, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Max Comtois and Rickard Rakell scored for Anaheim, which is 0-6-2 in its last eight games. John Gibson stopped 18 shots. The Ducks have dropped five straight games by one goal.
“The frustrating things are the one-goal games. We're right there and knocking on the door and have to find a way to keep one or two out of our net,” Eakins said.
Sundqvist took a pass from David Perron in front, spun around and put in a wrist shot with 5:15 remaining in the first period for his fourth goal of the season.
Schenn extended St. Louis' lead to 2-0 midway through the second period with a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat Gibson while he was being screened. Schenn leads the Blues with 11 goals, including three against the Ducks.
Comtois got Anaheim on the board with less than six minutes remaining in the second. Binnington got a glove on Troy Terry's shot, but the puck remained loose in the crease, allowing Comtois to crash the net and pounce on the rebound.
Comtois has six of his team-leading nine goals in the last 12 games.
Sanford put St. Louis back on top by two with 6:52 left after a scramble in front for his seventh of the season.
Rakell brought the Ducks to 3-2 with nine seconds to go. The left wing has five points, including two goals, in his last three games. Trevor Zegras, the ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft, got an assist for his first NHL point. He is the third-youngest American-born player to record a point for Anaheim at 19 years, 348 days.
Both teams hit the road for games on Friday. The Blues remain in Southern California to face the Los Angeles Kings, while the Ducks visit the Colorado Avalanche.
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