|This is what your life was like when you were 19, right? |
If the Ducks have an eye on the future, they had to like what they saw last night.
Anaheim's first three scorers in a fulfilling 4-3 win over the top-ranked Blues -- Cam Fowler
, Nick Bonino
and Devante Smith-Pelly
-- average 20.67 years of age, and they set the table for relative old guy Jason Blake
to net the clincher in the third.
With the Ducks nine back of the eighth spot with seven games left in this topsy-turvy season, meaningful wins are hard to come by. But Anaheim has managed to get a couple in a row, slowing the rival Sharks' postseason climb on Monday night and taking down the team with the NHL's best record last night. The Blues have 100 points, were the first team to clinch a playoff spot when they beat Tampa Bay last Saturday night and came into last night's game with a ridiculous 37-0-1 record when scoring at least three goals.
But the Ducks tarnished that mark, becoming the first team to score four goals on stingy goalie Jaroslav Halak since the Blue Jackets on December 18.
Three different times last night the Ducks went down a goal, and three different times they caught the Blues, taking their first lead when Jason Blake
banked one in off the back of defenseman Ian Cole's skate.
"I saw [Evgeni] Malkin do it last night," joked Blake, who was looking to feed a crashing Teemu Selanne
. "I knew 'T' was going and I just threw it. Fortunately it went off their defenseman's foot or leg or whatever it was."
To those in the crowd, it looked initially like Selanne might have jammed it in, and even he and Blake weren't sure. "I said, 'That went off you, right?'" Blake said. "And he goes, 'Something hit me. But they've got video, so we'll just check it out.' It was all good fun."
That may not have been the prettiest goal in the world, but the ones that the 20-year-old Fowler, 23-year-old Bonino and 19-year-old Smith-Pelly had definitely were. Fowler hammered home a slap shot
on a first period power play after Ryan Getzlaf
gave him a nifty between-the-legs touch pass at the point. Getzlaf also came through on Smith-Pelly's big tying goal in the third, pushing his way behind the net before delivering a backhand pass that DSP chipped through
. And sandwiched in between those, Bonino picked up a loose puck after Kyle Palmieri
's shot was blocked, then expertedly waited out Halak before slinging it
just under the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller
did his thing two nights after finally getting a night off, making a number of athletic saves among his 35 on the net, including a few while the Ducks clinged to that one-goal lead over the final six minutes. And the Ducks got a little inspiration from Bruce Boudreau after a sluggish first period that followed a day of only off-ice workouts for the team. He told reporters that he told his guys, "if you're going to play like this after a day off, you won't have any more days off. It's pretty simple We looked like we were in mud. And we were looking in awe at the St. Louis Blues because they're No. 1 in the league."
It's hard to believe, after watching the way they played the last two games, that the Ducks still sit in 12th in the West, well short of a playoff spot with seven to go. (If there ever was such a thing as an at-large berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anaheim would almost certainly be the top candidate.)
As it is, the Ducks can only look at those last few games and keep giving it all they have.
"I think that's the professional thing to do," Blake said. "It's been obviously a crazy season. We're trying to win hockey games. It doesn't matter if you're in it or out of it or you're fighting or whatever the situation may be."
Said Bruce Boudreau, "I don't think at any point we've just thrown in the towel. It's the same as the season. We were dead and buried in December and January. We're still not eliminated yet."
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If you were in the arena last night or watching the game on TV, you might have seen the feature below on the Ducks getting fitted for the Lady Ducks Fashion Show luncheon, being held today in Newport Beach. The highlight of the video is Lubomir Visnovsky's outfit, complete with blue pants, which leads him to claim, "I'm like business man from Slovakia from 1985." Take a look:
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Last but not least, a great tweet last night regarding the Ducks' diversity: