Both the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues have played well lately as they try to turn around disappointing seasons and return to the playoffs.
Each club, however, will be hoping to rebound from a close defeat as the Ducks continue their six-game road trip in St. Louis on Saturday night.
Anaheim (23-21-7) had won seven of eight before opening its longest trip of the season with a 3-1 loss at San Jose on Thursday night, the Ducks’ fifth straight loss to the Sharks since they eliminated San Jose in the first round of the 2009 postseason.
The Ducks, who fell to 7-13-5 on the road, squandered two power-play chances in a 8:53 span of the third period while trailing by one goal, but they finished 0 of 5 with the extra man and the Sharks sealed the game with an empty-netter.
“The big difference in the game was that our power play has to be a little bit better than that,” Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf said. “We have to be able to make it when we have that man advantage. That was pretty much the difference in the game (Thursday). We had our chances and it’s not for a lack of effort or execution. It’s a matter of getting them into the net and past them.”
Anaheim has scored a power-play goal in each of its last four victories, although it went 0 for 4 in a 4-2 home win over the Blues on Jan. 7. The Ducks trailed that game 2-1 early in the third period before scoring three unanswered goals, including one by Matt Beleskey.
The 21-year-old wing has scored his first five NHL goals in the Ducks’ last nine games, including their lone tally against the Sharks.
The Ducks will try to exploit a St. Louis penalty kill that wasn’t sharp in a 3-2 loss at Ottawa on Thursday, allowing the Senators three goals on four power-play opportunities. That was an aberration for the Blues, who’ve killed 84.6 percent of their penalties to rank third in the Western Conference.
St. Louis (22-21-7), which is 5-4-1 under interim coach Davis Payne, had more shots in the third period (15) Thursday than it did in the first two periods combined (14).
The Blues tied the game on Brad Boyes’ goal early in the final period, but Chris Phillips scored the game-winner for Ottawa with 9:31 left.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Blues goalie Chris Mason said. “As a team I don’t think we played well in the first two periods. Penalty kills is usually one of our strong suits and to give up three goals, you can’t do that and expect to win.”
Mason is 1-7-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average in his career against the Ducks, and it’s possible backup Ty Conklin could start. Conklin is 4-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA against Anaheim, including a 26-save shutout in a 5-0 win Oct. 17.
Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller, who is 12-5-0 with a 2.51 GAA in his last 17 starts overall, has won three of his four career outings against the Blues.
The teams are separated by two points near the bottom of the West standings, with both clubs chasing a crowded group for one of the final playoff spots.
Make it happen, boys!