The Ducks continued rolling along on their homestand and added two more points in the standings with a 7-4 victory against the St. Louis Blues. A bit of a roller coaster for the Ducks, it started strong, dipped in the middle, finished well, and then came to an end just when things seemed to be getting really interesting.
Bobby Ryan got his third career hat trick (the first at the Honda Center) and finally looks like he is settling in at center. It took a while, and included a bit of a scoring slump in December, but Ryan is back on track. He now has a three game goal scoring streak and has reached the 20 goal mark for the third year in a row.
“The month of December was a little bit ugly,” Ryan said. “We’ve gone on streaks all year long. We need to come out at home, establish the forecheck, and establish our identity.”
Jonas Hiller’s shut out ended at 178:34. David Backes, who had back to back goals (would that be Backes to Backes goals?) at 3:44 and 6:15 of the second period, made sure that Hiller would not continue without a puck in his net. Even giving up four goals in the game did not spoil his stats by much. Over the last seven games, Hiller has a .956 save percentage and 1.43 goals against average.
While Ryan got the party started at 3:31 of the first with a power play goal, Jason Blake continued it at 7:21. Blake was fortunate to pick up his own rebound off Ty Conklin and then putting it in the net off Alex Pietrangelo’s skate.
Ryan made it 3-0 at the end of the first period on a play that was nothing short of miraculous. Corey Perry was on the ice behind the net and still was able to bang the puck off the net to where Ryan was perched in front. Ryan had the presence of mind to be there and finished it in behind Conklin. Ryan then went over to Perry, who was still on his tush on the ice, and thanked his linemate.
Feeling cocky going into the second period with a 3-0 lead the Ducks got a little complacent and it bit them. After Backes’ second goal, coach Randy Carlyle wisely took his timeout and settled things down.
After having a good talk with his team between periods, Carlyle got the strong start to the third period that he was looking for.
“We just needed to calm down out there,” Ryan said. “There was a little complacency. We tried to do a little bit too much in the neutral zone, and that led to turnovers and it led to their transition. To come out in the third period and regroup, get a good quick one and then go from there was huge.”
It only took :30 seconds for Ryan to get his third goal of the game by tipping in Andreas Lilja’s shot. Ryan now has two hat tricks on the season. His other one came on November 27 in Phoenix. Maybe he can aim for back to back hat tricks when the Ducks visit Phoenix on Saturday?
“It’s special, because you’re never going to get the hats (thrown on the ice) on the road,” said Ryan.
Au contraire! You may not get as many, but there were a few thrown down in Phoenix.
Perry added a wraparound goal at 6:17 to make sure fans got their free chicken wings from Hooters (like that’s what customers are really there for!). Lubomir Visnovsky added a power play goal to his two assists at 13:20 and made it 6-2.
That’s when things got a little dicey and the Blues finally let their frustrations boil over. Fights between Barrett Jackman and George Parros were followed by a tilt between BJ Crombeen and Maxim Lapierre off the next face off. Not to be outdone, :15 seconds later there were brawls between Eric Brewer and Luca Sbisa after generally wrestling and roughing by everyone else not wearing goalie pads on the ice. Sbisa soundly put Brewer down on the ice then skated away with nary a thank you for the dance.
When all was said and done, the Ducks had another power play because at the start of the fracas was a kneeing penalty on Brad Winchester. The Ducks figured, why not add another one? This time Brandon McMillan put one in at 15:16, his fourth of the year.
The Blues decided enough was enough and the Ducks got a little sloppy again. Ryan Reaves got his first NHL goal at 16:20 and was not wearing the usual smile that would accompany such a feat.
An unnecessary hooking penalty by Matt Beleskey was followed up with Todd Marchant clearing the puck over the glass. The Blues had a 5 on 3 and it did not matter that there were less than three minutes in the game.
Brad Boyes nudged the score to 7-4 at 17:58 and the Blues made it interesting the rest of the way. Hiller stayed strong and the Ducks got the win and remain in fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Ducks now head off to Phoenix before returning home for a final home game before the All Star break. After that one, the Ducks will be taking the show on the road for a while. For now, the wins are coming, and every point counts.