So when Ducks defensemen Cam Fowler and Josh Manson committed major gaffes behind and around Andersen on Friday, the St. Louis Blues took what was otherwise a competitive game and turned it into a four-goal third-period blitz, winning 5-2 at Scottrade Center.
“You'd like to say, ‘Those things happen,' but we haven't seen them happen and we don't want to see them happen again,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Each of the Blues' goals in the third were unassisted as St. Louis (40-20-9) won its fifth consecutive game while the Ducks (37-21-9) lost their second straight after a 12-0-2 run and remained one point behind the first-place Kings in the Pacific Division.
Fowler has spoken of discomfort and a loss of some peripheral vision because of his use of a full clear mask he's worn since getting hit on the nose this month, and Boudreau said the hindrance might've contributed to Fowler miscues that led to two Blues goals, including Jori Lehtera's go-ahead shot 1 minute 55 seconds into the third.
“I'm thinking the shield is affecting him … he's trying to be too perfect,” Boudreau said.
On Lehtera's goal, Fowler lost the puck behind the net and St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz shifted a pass from the right rear of Andersen to Lehtera, who quickly beat the goalie to his left side.
Sixty four seconds after Lehtera's goal, Manson committed a giveaway from behind the net that Blues center Patrik Berglund buried in the net.
Then, Fowler, who was minus-four on the night, watched Vladimir Tarasenko outrace him to another lost puck in front of Andersen and make the score 4-2. Tarasenko notched his 32nd goal of the season on a long-distance shot to an empty net in the final two minutes.
“That's certainly not something we're accustomed to doing,” Fowler said of the lapses. “Systematically, we played hard. A few breakdowns in the third period is the difference in the game.”
In a meeting of the NHL's top two penalty-killing teams, the Ducks scored first on a two-man advantage 5:17 into the second period. A shot by Ryan Kesler bounced off the chest of Blues goalie Jake Allen and fellow center Ryan Getzlaf was positioned to Allen's left to score the rebound in midair fashion.
But after the Ducks killed two penalties, Andersen was beaten at even strength when Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson beamed a blue-line pass that center Paul Stastny found by shifting away from Fowler toward Andersen's left and deflecting a shot past the goalie with 3:24 remaining in the second.
Ducks center Rickard Rakell was credited with a third-period goal that Blues winger Troy Brouwer bounced off Stastny to the net with 4:33 left in the game, but that was the extent of Anaheim's good fortune.
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa left the game early with a lower-body injury, Boudreau said.
Andersen took stock of the end of two impressive streaks on the two-game road swing as a three-game homestand begins Monday against New Jersey.
“[Tied] going to the third, we'll take that on the road, but they capitalized in the right spots,” Andersen said. “We went through this early in the year. We know we have it in here, what kind of players we have. Given that experience, we've got to use that to come out of this ... push at all times.”
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