Ryan scored three times Wednesday night, giving him six goals in three games, as the Anaheim Ducks beat the St. Louis Blues 7-4 on Wednesday night to complete their six-game homestand with five victories, including three in a row.
Ryan had just one goal in a 13-game stretch in December. But the coming of the new year has seen the former No. 2 overall pick get hot at just the right time. With captain Ryan Getzlaf sidelined with facial fractures, the Ducks needed Ryan to step up -- and he has.
"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."
Ryan scored twice in Anaheim's three-goal first period and completed the hat trick 30 seconds into the third period when he deflected Andreas Lilja's slapper from the right point past Ty Conklin. The Ducks then blew the game open as Corey Perry scored at 6:17, and Lubomir Visnovsky and Brandon McMillan added late power-play goals.
"It's special, because you're never going to get the hats (thrown on the ice) on the road," Ryan said of his third NHL hat trick.
Getting Ryan on track has been a major task for coach Randy Carlyle.
"He's got to feel good about himself," Carlyle said. "He can't be down. He's still a young player. It's nice to see that he's finally being rewarded in the last little while. ... He's a goal-scorer, and he scored goal scorer-type goals. The first two goals went off the post and in. Those are pretty fine shots."
Jonas Hiller, coming off back-to-back shutouts and a berth in the All-Star Game, extended his shutout streak to 178 minutes, 34 seconds before David Backes scored the first of his two goals at 3:44 of the second period. He finished with 30 saves, allowing late goals to rookie Ryan Reaves, his first in the NHL, and Brad Boyes.
The victory vaulted the Ducks from eighth place to fifth in the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race with 52 points. St. Louis remained in 12th place with 46 points, four behind eighth-place Colorado, after losing its fifth in a row.
"You look at the start they got off to, they got a pretty good jump on us," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We made some mental mistakes early that cost us. ... It's one thing not to have your legs going early, but the mental preparation has to be better."
Anaheim finished 5-1-0 on a six-game homestand that began with a 5-2 victory against Philadelphia on Dec. 31. The Ducks visit Phoenix on Saturday, host Edmonton on Sunday and then play their last four games before the All-Star break on the road -- in all, they play 11 of their next 14 games away from Honda Center.
Ryan sandwiched his first two goals around one by Jason Blake as the Ducks completely dominated the first period and skated off with a 3-0 lead.
He opened the scoring by taking a pass from Joffrey Lupul in the bottom of the left circle and beating Ty Conklin with a slap shot at 3:31 for a power-play goal. Blake made it 2-0 at 7:21 when he tried to backhand his own rebound to Saku Koivu, only to have the puck hit Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and slip past Conklin.
Ryan reached the 20-goal mark at 18:17 when he snapped home a passout from Perry, who made a terrific play behind the net, diving to get a stick on the puck and slide it to Ryan for a quick shot that Conklin had no chance on.
The Blues made a game of it with a pair of goals in a span of 2:31 early in the second period.
Backes ended Hiller's shutout streak when he took a breakaway pass by Vladimir Sobotka, raced in alone and zipped a 10-footer into the net at 3:44. He took another pass from Sobotka and beat Hiller to the stick side from the left faceoff dot at 6:15, giving him two goals for the night and 14 for the season.
Hiller was tested often during the middle period, as the Blues carried the play while outshooting Anaheim 16-7.
After Ryan's deflection gave Anaheim some breathing room, Perry got his 22nd of the season on a wraparound into a wide-open net after Conklin was unable to move the puck, got caught behind the net and was unable to get back into his crease. Ryan had an assist on the goal, giving him a four-point night.
"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."
Visnovsky got his eighth of the season when he teed up a straightaway slapper from 45 feet and blew it past a screened Conklin at 13:20. McMillan tipped in Andy Sutton's pass at 15:16.
The Blues get right back on the ice Thursday night at Los Angeles in the second of a three-game California swing.
"You've got to work your way out of it and be smart about it," center Alexander Steen said. "We have another game against L.A., and we have to redeem ourselves. We've just gotten away from doing the little things right consistently throughout the 60 minutes."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report