Facing the top team in the Western Conference in an arena that has not been kind as of late, the Ducks put their work boots on and delivered a total team effort in the form of a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Wednesday. The Ducks improved to 11-10-4 (26 points), while St. Louis fell to 17-7-1 (35 points). The victory also gave the Ducks their first win on this six-game road trip (1-1-1).
They did it without defenseman Brandon Montour, the most recent player to miss a game due to injury, joining a list that includes captain Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase and Jared Boll. Nevertheless, the Ducks took it to the Blues from the outset led by a two-goal performance from veteran Antoine Vermette. The 35-year-old center opened the scoring early in the first period and struck again on the power play in the second period to snap Anaheim's four-game winless streak. Rookie forward Kevin Roy scored his first career power-play goal as part of his first-career multi-point game, while John Gibson delivered another outstanding performance. Gibson stopped 37 shots for his eighth victory of the season. The Ducks improved to 41-36-11 all-time vs. the Blues, including a 16-21-8 mark in St. Louis.
"We were tired of losing," said Gibson. "We wanted to come out hard and end the losing streak here tonight. We battled hard. We played a lot better defensively, blocking shots and doing what we needed to do for the win."
Here is something to think about - the Blues entered the game having earned points in 12 of their last 14 games against Anaheim at Scottrade Center (10-2-2), which included a four-game win streak. Furthermore, Jake Allen, who stopped 27-of-30 shots for just his sixth defeat of the season (13-6-1), came into tonight's game with a 5-0 record, 1.40 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in five career home games vs. Anaheim. The Ducks gave St. Louis just its fifth regulation loss in its last 21 regular-season home games (15-5-1), a stretch that saw the Blues outscore their opponents 73-49 entering tonight's game.
The Ducks got off to a quick start when Vermette scored one of the "uglier" goals of his decorated career. After Francois Beauchemin's point shot made its way through traffic, Roy's rebound attempt deflected into the air and bounced off Vermette's chest and across the stripe. After a brief review, the call on the ice stood, giving Vermette his fourth goal and eight point of the season. Vermette ended an 11-game goal-less drought with the tally, the 224th goal of his NHL career.
Video: ANA@STL: Vermette cashes in on a fortunate bounce
Gibson's best stop in the period came with under five minutes remaining in the period when he denied Jaden Schwartz on the doorstep with a point-blank left-pad stop, one of 12 saves the 24-year-old netminder made in the opening frame.
Anaheim made it a 2-0 lead just 33 seconds into the second period when Roy finished a crisp cross-ice feed from Cam Fowler for his second career NHL goal. After corralling the pass, Roy chipped it top shelf over Allen for his second point of the game.
Video: ANA@STL: Roy buries Fowler's sweet feed for PPG
The Ducks were not finished. On the next power play, Vermette struck again, this time capitalizing on a juicy rebound kicked out by Allen to make it 3-0. The original shot came from the right point off the stick of Kevin Bieksa, but before it made it to Allen, Chris Wagner managed to make slight contact with the shot. From there, Vermette waited, alone at the left dot, for his first multi-goal game since March 12, 2016 at Edmonton (3 points, 2g/1a) with the Arizona Coyotes.
Video: ANA@STL: Vermette cleans up the rebound for a PPG
"When you get thumped like we did the other night in Chicago, you look for a response from your group," said head coach Randy Carlyle. "We knew we could be competitive. Tonight we gave ourselves a chance to win a hockey game. Our special teams basically won us the game."
St. Louis ended Gibson's shutout bid with 3:48 remaining in the third period when Kyle Brodziak's shot snuck past the outstretched goaltender for his fourth goal of the season.
Brodziak scored again with 16.7 seconds left on the clock to make it a one-goal deficit on a nifty backhander that went into the top corner. Despite giving up the late goal, the Ducks held on to preserve the 3-2 victory.
"Odds are against us with guys going down with injuries," said defenseman Josh Manson. "We're not making excuses. We're finding ways to get the job done. It's something we need to build on. Get the ball rolling here."
Anaheim's six-game road trip continues Friday in Columbus, the first half of a back-to-back set that finishes Saturday night in Nashville.
NOTE: Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg did not play in the third period. The 27-year-old right wing had an upper-body injury and was held out for precautionary reasons, as reported by Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register. Silfverberg has appeared in every game this season.