In an often nasty game in which Anaheim could have easily folded after a second period heavily tilted toward St. Louis, Kesler scored two goals, fought the Blues' star player, induced a penalty and nearly won it with two chances in overtime.
Ryan Getzlaf scored in the fourth round of a shootout and John Gibson finally finished off a monster 4-3 comeback win at Honda Center. Kesler's effort was indicative of perhaps Anaheim's most hard-earned win of the season.
"I think going into the third, there were some things said," Kesler said. "We knew we needed to buckle down and claw back into the thing, and I thought we did a good job of it."
Getzlaf beat goalie Brian Elliott with a backhand to end a long, exhaustive game that would have been difficult to swallow for the Ducks if they didn't get the two points.
"I thought we did a good job of staying to the game plan," Kesler said. "I thought we were pretty disciplined and I thought we kept our emotions in check tonight. I thought we played a good game."
Kesler exploited the void with his second goal to tie it 3-3 early in the third. He lifted a hard wrist shot from the right wing on the power play, one of five given to the Ducks.
"He got two goals tonight and they were big goals and he was out there for the majority of the [penalty kill]," Getzlaf said. "Those are big things for our group, and a good game for him."
Anaheim couldn't finish it off in regulation despite outshooting St. Louis, 19-2, in the third.
The Ducks somehow salvaged the second period on Corey Perry's goal with 3:04 remaining that pulled them to 3-2. Perry scored off a rush in traffic with Getzlaf occupying a defender.
Not much else went the Ducks' way in the period. They allowed three goals and were outshot, 17-5, thanks to consecutive penalties by Perry, Korbinian Holzer and Shawn Horcoff.
St. Louis' first goal was an unusually soft one allowed by Gibson, on a wrist shot that went in under his left pad. Troy Brouwer deked around Holzer and scored on the short side, and Robby Fabbri came off the bench for a partial breakaway goal to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead.
The Ducks got positive news off the ice as defenseman Simon Despres is close to returning to practice, a team official said. He has been out since Oct.16 because of concussion symptoms.
Friday marked the first time in 27 games that the Ducks received more power plays than their opponent. Getzlaf bit his tongue when asked about the trend before the game but said they're aware.
"Some of it's on us," Getzlaf said. "We talk a little too much to the refs at times and we've kind of grown that reputation, I think, over the years. All we can do is try and keep our mouth shut and play the game."
Boudreau hasn't shied from mentioning the disparity. It's been a point of emphasis in their approach and Getzlaf said they've done a better job of "quieting down."
"Some guys left the team that were known for it," Getzlaf said. "That has kind of helped us calm down a little bit."