The Ducks were just 19 seconds away from earning a hard-fought point in their second game in as many nights, but a backbreaking goal from an unlikely source unfortunately put an end to that plan. Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson scored for just the second time in 53 games this season to lift them to a 4-3 victory over the Ducks. The loss snapped Anaheim's two-game winning streak, which featured victories on Tuesday against Nashville and last night in Chicago.
Rickard Rakell, Chris Wagner and Jakob Silfverberg scored for Anaheim, which, for the time being, remains two points ahead of third-place Edmonton in the Pacific Division. [Edmonton was hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time this game ended]. John Gibson turned aside 31-of-35 shots, and denied Ryan Reaves on a penalty shot, in his return to the lineup after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury.
"It's tough," Rakell said, on the way this game ended. "It was a hard-fought game. We really felt we were the better team in the third period. We were so close, so many times. This one sucks right now. I really wish we would've won this one."
Vladimir Tarasenko, Reaves and Paul Stastny also scored the Blues, who now have a three-point cushion over the LA Kings for the second wild card spot. The Blues are also two points back of third-place Nashville in the Central Division. Jake Allen made 23 saves for his 25th victory of the season.
The Blues wasted no time opening the scoring in this one, only needing 12 seconds to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Tarasenko, the team's leading scorer, used Cam Fowler as a screen to pot his 30th goal of the season - a quick snap shot that beat Gibson over his right shoulder. It was his 92nd even-strength goal since 2014-15 (regular season + playoffs), tops among all active NHL skaters, and nine more than Chicago's Patrick Kane.
The Ducks responded at the 8:01 mark of the first period when Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf fired a pass through the crease to Rakell, who beat Allen over the glove for his team-leading 28th goal of the season. The goal was waved off for goaltender interference, but a challenge from Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle ultimately overturned the initial call on the ice. It was determined that there was no goaltender interference on the play after Corey Perry was cross-checked into Allen by Blues forward Jori Lehtera.
Video: ANA@STL: Rakell finishes Getzlaf's perfect pass
Anaheim jumped out to a 2-1 lead late in the period off an impressive give-and-go sequence from the club's fourth line. The play started when Fowler sent a crisp breakout pass to a streaking Wagner in the defensive zone. After carrying the puck through center ice, Wagner entered the offensive zone with Jared Boll on his wing. After dishing it to Boll, Wagner drove the center lane and received a deft pass from Boll who drew Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to his side. Allen had also committed to Boll, leaving the net open for Wagner to shuttle in his fourth goal and fifth point of the season.
Video: ANA@STL: Wagner uses skate to finish give-and-go
St. Louis evened the score at the 4:17 mark of the second period when miscommunication between Gibson and Korbinian Holzer allowed the Blues to gain possession deep inside the zone. Reaves was able to corral a Jaden Schwartz rebound chance and jam it past Gibson for his fourth goal of the season.
Gibson made his best save of the period on Schwartz, who was left all alone in the high slot. Gibson was able to get a piece of his glove on the shot, which kept the game tied with less than two minutes remaining in the second period.
Stastny got the lead back for the Blues just 25 seconds into the third period when he cruised into the high slot uncontested and beat Gibson through the five-hole for his 18th goal of the season.
Gibson kept it a 2-1 score when he opted for an old-school diving pokecheck to deny Reaves on his penalty shot opportunity minutes after Stastny's goal.
Video: ANA@STL: Gibson pokes away Reaves' penalty shot
The save proved its importance when, minutes later, Silfverberg sniped a snap shot shortside on the power play to even the score, 3-3. With the goal, Silfverberg established a new career high for points in a season (40) after consecutive 39-point campaigns in the two seasons prior. He's also one goal shy of tying his career high for goals in a season (20), established last season.
Video: ANA@STL: Silfverberg beats Allen for game-tying PPG
The Blues regained the lead with only 19 seconds remaining in regulation when Edmundson's wrist shot beat Gibson high-glove.
It was an unfortunate end for the Ducks, who will return home to open a three-game homestand against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
"We know there are only going to be tough games like this until the season is done," said Rakell. "We like playing these kinds of games. This is a tough one, but we have to put it behind us and start thinking about the next one."