All good things must come to an end, as last night the Ducks saw their eight-game winning streak snapped in a 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks had the start they wanted, and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Marian Hossa and Kris Versteeg. And while the Ducks nearly clawed their way back from a three-goal deficit late in the third on goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Kyle Palmieri 53 seconds apart, it was too little too late against the team directly beneath them in the league standings.
The loss ended an impressive eight-game run for the Ducks, one that began with a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center on New Year’s Eve. It was the longest active winning streak in the NHL at the time, and the club’s third streak of seven-or-more games, marking the first team to do so since the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08.
Fortunately for the Ducks (36-9-5, 77 points), they’ll have a chance to start a new streak tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. But it’ll take a full 60-minute effort to beat a Blues team that’s third in the conference with 69 points (32-9-5). The Blues also have four games in hand on the Ducks, which makes tonight’s game all the more important for Anaheim.
“They lost their last game in their own building and it’ll definitely make them hungrier,” said forward Kyle Palmieri, of the Blues’ 4-1 loss to LA two nights ago. “But that’s the best part about hockey. We get to go out and do it again. Hopefully we get off to a good start and go from there.”
The regulation loss on home ice was only the fourth this season for the Blues (18-4-2), who also dropped a 5-2 contest against the Ducks back on Dec. 7.
Frederik Andersen is expected to get the start in net tonight. The 24-year-old rookie earned his 11th win of the season on Jan. 15 in Anaheim’s 9-1 rout of the Canucks at Honda Center. Overall, Andersen is 11-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
On the other side, Brian Elliott looks to be the Blues’ starter. Elliott had to come on in relief of Jaroslav Halak in the first meeting of the season between these two clubs, after Halak was blitzed with three goals on eight shots early in the first period.
Earlier this morning, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock offered his thoughts on the Ducks.
“When you look at Anaheim, all the players look the same,” he said. “They all hunt the puck, they all forecheck, they all play physical, and they all have great puck support. They all hound you. You have no space, no time. You have to be really sharp. If you’re lazy or slow, they jump all over you. They come at you in waves.
“There are games, quite frankly, when you watch them play, you can turn it off halfway through. They might be up a goal or maybe the game is tied, but when they’re dominating that way, you just know the end result is going to be in their favor.”
LONG AND WINDING ROAD
Anaheim has won eight of its last 10 road games (8-2-0) and has earned points in nine of the last 11 (8-2-1). With a 16-9-3 road record, Anaheim leads the NHL in road points (35) and wins.
The Ducks have played 68% of their road schedule with a co-league-leading 28 games and have completed travel to the Eastern Time Zone for the season. In addition, the club has only two remaining in the Central Time Zone (tonight and Feb. 8 at Nashville) of the 14 remaining on the road schedule.
Anaheim and St. Louis play the second of a three-game season series tonight at Scottrade Center. The Ducks opened the season series with a 5-2 win over the Blues on Dec. 7 in St. Louis. Anaheim owns a 35-32-10 all-time record vs. St. Louis (14-17-8 on road) and is led by Teemu Selanne’s 61 points (25g/26a) in 72 career games against the Blues. Following tonight’s game, the season series will shift to Anaheim for the finale on Feb. 28 at Honda Center.