Rickard Rakell comes up big in Ducks' 2-1 win over the Blues

Rickard Rakell comes up big in Ducks' 2-1 win over the Blues
St. Louis Blues' Ivan Barbashev, left, reaches for the puck against Ducks' Cam Fowler during the first period Wednesday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The 30-goal plateau was difficult for Rickard Rakell to see from his hospital bed back in September.

He had a stomach virus that forced a withdrawal from the World Cup of Hockey, then a setback from surgery to remove scar tissue from an appendectomy. A contract dispute kept him out the first nine games of this season.


From that voodoo-spell start, Rakell has been magic. His 30th goal arrived Wednesday in a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Ryan Getzlaf topped another strong game with a short-handed goal and goalie Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves at Honda Center as the Ducks took sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division.

Rakell became the first Ducks player other than Getzlaf or Corey Perry to reach 30 goals since Bobby Ryan's 31 goals in 2011-12.

Rakell said he might have seen it in the far distance.

"Maybe," he said. "You always think about it. It's not impossible, but especially with what I went through during the summer and going back to last season, I didn't really have any expectations like that.

"It's fun to score to goals. I always wanted to score goals as much as I could. But as long as we win, I just want to help the team in any way."

More impressive was that it happened in Rakell's 59th game. He swiped it in untouched in front of the Blues' net fewer than six minutes into the contest. Getzlaf pushed the puck to him after a St. Louis turnover.

Getzlaf said Rakell is finding the right areas on the ice. He's not a bit surprised at Rakell's high-percentage scoring.

"That's what we've expected from Raks," he said. "He's been building this the last couple of years and really coming into his own and being the elite player that we know he is. He's doing the right things and he's getting rewarded for it."

Getzlaf beat goalie Jake Allen with a blistering wrist shot from above the hash marks for a 2-0 lead at 6:37 of the second period. It was the game-winning goal after St. Louis pulled to 2-1 on Ivan Barbashev's goal with 9:52 remaining.

Getzlaf has 14 goals for the season and 12 points in seven games.

"It's just been building," he said. "This time of year is a fun time of year. Coming out of that break, my body felt rested and prepared to do what we need to do to push for the playoffs. We'll continue playing that way and building this and getting better and better."

Allen was one of the hotter goalies in the NHL. He gave up two goals in the Blues' last three road games, and he was in net when the Blues beat the Ducks on Joel Edmundson's goal with 20 seconds remaining last Friday to improve to 5-0 lifetime against Anaheim.

Ducks wing Chris Wagner might have had revenge on his mind when he crunched Edmundson against the boards in a highlight-reel hit that lifted Edmundson off his skates in the second period. Wagner then induced a cross-checking penalty on Edmundson.