What we learned from the Ducks’ shootout victory over the Blues
It’s well established this season that the Ducks don’t get victories the easy way. But they might be challenged to get a more hard-earned two points than their 4-3 shootout win against St. Louis on Friday.
A sign of a changing Ducks team? Friday might have been an important step, given they came back from a 3-1 deficit after a second period swung mostly in the Blues’ direction.
Here’s what we learned:
They didn’t get down
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau so often describes his players as “deflated” or “woe-is-me” when they give up goals, but this time they weathered three St. Louis goals in the second and got out of it down only 3-2.
Their leadership came through
Ryan Kesler led the way back and Ryan Getzlaf helped finish it off, which is notable in a season in which Anaheim’s best players have often failed in times of adversity.
Kesler had two goals, induced a penalty in the third period, and drew the defensive assignment against Vladimir Tarasenko, the NHL’s co-leader in goals who fought Kesler because of Kesler’s hit on another Blues player.
“He was a beast,” Boudreau. “I’m sure Tarasenko went after him. I know it was because of the hit, but more because he was frustrated. He was on every time [Kesler] was on and [Kesler] was keeping him away from the puck.”
This would be a nasty playoff series
The Ducks have to get there first, but if they played St. Louis in the playoffs, every game might be like Friday’s. The teams have built up a hatred for each other over the years and it manifests itself in penalties, hits and scrums.
St. Louis Coach Ken Hitchcock called it a “sudden-death elimination playoff game.”
“Both teams poured their damn heart out,” Hitchcock said. “Both teams played as well as they could play. We ran out of bodies. They had a little bit more in the tank in the end. We pushed them so hard we almost pushed them right out of the building in the second period and then they came back and pushed us.”
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