Only five days have passed since the Ducks suffered a crushing loss in St. Louis, a 4-3 defeat with the winning goal coming with just 19 seconds left on the clock. The setback put an end to Anaheim's modest two-game winning streak and formed a dark cloud over what could've been a statement two-game road trip (and back-to-back set) that began with a 1-0 victory in Chicago the night before.
Instead of carrying the loss into the following game two nights later against Washington, the Ducks delivered one of their most complete performances of the season to upend the league-leading Capitals, 5-2, at Honda Center. "Short-term memory and long-term plans," said head coach Randy Carlyle in the pregame media scrum this morning, when asked how the team deals with setbacks such as that one in St. Louis.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season and both clubs pushing towards the postseason, it's a big game for both clubs. The Ducks enter tonight's game in a tie with the Calgary Flames for second place in the Pacific Division and hold a one-point lead on the Edmonton Oilers (first wild card). Though tied in points with the Flames (who have won 10 in a row), Calgary owns the tiebreaker with two more ROWs (35 to Anaheim's 33). Calgary hosts the Boston Bruins tonight. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Blues currently hold the second wild card spot with a four-point gap on the LA Kings. St. Louis is also just two points behind the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division. For what it's worth, the Blues have outscored the opposition 16-8 during their current five-game winning streak.
"They make you earn everything on the ice," said defenseman Cam Fowler. "We'd love to prove we're capable of competing with them. We know we can, but we need to go out and execute. They don't give you anything for free, so we're going to have to earn it tonight."
The Ducks will count on Jonathan Bernier to provide them with another stellar outing after he was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week for the week ending March 12. Bernier went 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and one shutout with victories over the Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals.
St. Louis will counter with Jake Allen, who remains undefeated against Anaheim in his career (5-0-0, 1.47 GAA, .943 SV% and one shutout).
The Blues will be without the services of forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who suffered an upper-body injury Monday night against the Kings when he collided with teammate Robert Bortuzzo, and forward Jori Lehtera, who remains in St. Louis after taking a puck to the head on Saturday.
Potential Line Combinations
Video: Ducks preview their matchup with the St. Louis Blues