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Recap: Ducks Avoid Repeat, Hold Off Blues 2-1

by Adam Brady @AdamJBrady /

ANAHEIM - After they were devastated by a late Blues goal five days ago in St. Louis, the Ducks weren't about to let it happen again in their home rink. 

Anaheim clung to a one-goal lead over the back half of the third period and held onto it in a gritty 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center. The Ducks avenged the one defeat in which their last five games in which the Blues scored with 19 seconds left in regulation to shock the Ducks 4-3. 

Tonight, the Blues got within a goal at the halfway point of the third when Magnus Paajarvi made a nice backhand feed through traffic to Ivan Barbashev, who tapped it through on the doorstep. But the Ducks held their ground over the final 10 minutes, thanks in part to goalie Jonathan Bernier (26 saves) and a defense that gave up few chances when the Blues sent goalie Jake Allen to the bench with more than two minutes left.  

Bernier has been very strong holding down the fort with No. 1 goalie John Gibson out with a lower-body injury. He came into tonight with a 2.13 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in the games that Gibson has been out, and the Ducks have won six of eight since the injury. 

"In the last couple of weeks, Bernier has made some incredible saves and kept us in hockey games," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "But if you hold a team to one goal, that includes everybody in the locker room, not just the goaltender."

Not only have the Ducks won four of their last five, but they snapped a five-game winning streak for the Blues. 

"When you have your big guys displaying the work ethic that's required," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said, "it makes it easier to hold everyone else accountable to the same standard."

A beautiful play 5 1/2 minutes into the game by one of those big guys, Ryan Getzlaf, led to Rickard Rakell's 30th goal of the season and a 1-0 Anaheim lead. As the Blues attempted to clear the puck, Getzlaf extended his arm to intercept it and tap it over to Rakell who promptly buried it from just outside the crease. It was the 30th goal of the season for Rakell, who long ago surpassed his previous career high of 20 set last year. 

Video: STL@ANA: Rakell tallies his 30th goal of the season

The Ducks turned the tables to make it a two-goal lead 6 1/2 minutes into the second period, as Andrew Cogliano lost and regained the puck on a shorthanded rush, feeding it back to Getzlaf for the snipe from the slot. 

Video: STL@ANA: Cogliano feeds Getzlaf for shorthanded goal

Anaheim gripped onto that two-goal lead until Paajarvi and Barbashev connected with 9:52 left, but the Ducks made sure that was as close as St. Louis would get. "We're doing a good job of dumping the puck deep and killing time in their zone," Bernier said. "We're doing all the right things right now."

And with games down the stretch taking on more meaning with the playoffs on the horizon, tonight's win (and Calgary's loss) put the Ducks (36-23-10) in second place alone in the Pacific Division.

Anaheim's next test comes Friday night against Buffalo at Honda Center.  

We want to try to finish as high as we can to make sure we can get home ice advantage for the first round at least," Getzlaf said. "We know we have to take care of business. Tonight was a hard-fought game against a good hockey team. We battled right through until the end."

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