ST. LOUIS — The back end of two demanding road games isn't usually the place to find a spike of energy.
Among the reasons that give the Ducks' season a feeling of greater future accomplishment, their resolve in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at Scottrade Center was the thing to recognize.
Not only did the Ducks (37-9-5) ratchet up their energy a night after getting out-hustled in a 4-2 loss at defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, they withstood the best, last effort from the Blues (32-10-5), who scored two third-period goals.
“All the guys battled hard, especially at the end,” Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen said after a 34-save effort in which he denied St. Louis in the game's final 5:31.
“It only took one shot, but we showed a lot of character, stayed together, kept blocking shots and showed the will to win.”
Andersen, given the start over Jonas Hiller because he also won at St. Louis on Dec.7, responded to a frenzied crowd and a power-play goal by Jaden Schwartz from the side that sneaked in off the goalie's back by denying the Blues' T.J. Oshie on a clean shot.
“I don't know if he wanted to go five-hole, but he didn't score,” Andersen said.
The Ducks, who've won 19 of their last 21 games, haven't suffered consecutive regulation losses since Nov. 14.
The night after his goal differential while on the ice was minus-three in the loss to the Blackhawks, Ducks forward Matt Beleskey starred in their two-goal second period.
“Some nights, you don't got it,” Beleskey said. “Tonight we did. Good bounce-back, good win.”
Beleskey first took a pass from center Nick Bonino off Bonino's steal and fired a shot that went off and slowly under Blues goalie Brian Elliott.
That increased the Blues' desperation, and they swarmed, battling behind the Ducks' net when a penalty was called against Blues forward Alexander Steen for interference.
With the man advantage, Beleskey moved toward the Blues' goal and was belted by David Backes, knocking Beleskey's helmet off but not affecting his courage.
Without the protection, Beleskey dared to screen Elliott as Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler belted a wrist shot that beat Elliott to his left for a 3-0 lead.
“That takes a lot of guts,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Perfect screen, no lid on, that puck's up around your shoulders … and he just stood there.”
Said Beleskey: “That's my job — let Cam pick the corners, and he did. I got the last laugh.”
After Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf gave Andersen a goal's cushion 5:27 into the game with career-high-tying 25th goal, the young goalie looked like he'd taken the wind from the Blues' sails himself by stopping all 19 shots he faced in the first two periods.
The Blues started the week 18-2-2 at home, but the Kings and Ducks both beat them.
The return of 24-goal scorer Steen from an 11-game concussion absence didn't provide the lift they expected. In 20:56 of ice time, Steen had four shots on goal, with seven blocked.
The Ducks, meanwhile, have seven of their final eight games before the Olympic break in Southern California — six at Honda Center, where they're 20-0-2.
“We love it at home, can't wait to get there,” Boudreau said.
The Ducks also learned Saturday that with traded center Peter Holland playing his 25th game for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the conditional draft pick they received increased in value to a second-round pick later this year. Anaheim now has two first-round picks — their own and Ottawa's — and two in the second.
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