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Blues edge struggling Ducks on fluke goal

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The game-winning goal for the St. Louis Blues typifies the way things are going for the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks concluded a five-game trip without a victory after rookie Colton Parayko's fluke goal midway through the third period gave the Blues a 2-1 win at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Parayko, who leads all NHL defensemen with four goals, got the puck at the blue line after the Blues' Scott Gomez won a faceoff and fired a shot that missed the net. But the puck came off the end boards, caromed off the left skate of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and slid into the net with 9:29 remaining, breaking a 1-1 tie.

"We need a break and we're not getting them right now," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after his team's third one-goal loss in four days. "We're playing good enough to win."

Parayko left the game late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Coach Ken Hitchcock said he thinks Parayko will be fine.

Parayko is the third defenseman in Blues history to score two game-winning goals in his rookie season, joining Brian Benning in 1986-87 and Erik Johnson in 2007-08. His 10 shots on goal set a Blues single-game rookie record.

The last NHL rookie to have 10 shots on goal in a game was Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals on April 7, 2006.

Hitchcock spoke recently about wanting Parayko to be more accurate with his heavy shot. He laughed after being asked if he thought it was OK with that shot being wide of the net.

"Yeah," a smiling Hitchcock said. "He's around big points right now, which is a good sign for us right now. He's getting a lot of big points, timely points, timely goals, timely assists, whatever. He's having a big impact with us right now."

Andersen said the bad bounce is the type of play that's going against the Ducks right now.

"Unfortunately, it came right back and hit the skate," Andersen said. "I thought we played great. That's how I play it, but this time, it ended up costing us the game.

"It's tough. I was surprised it came out that fast. We deserved a win for sure."

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored and Jake Allen made 22 saves for the Blues (7-2-1), who have two wins and an overtime loss on their five-game homestand.

The Ducks (1-7-2) got a power-play goal from Hampus Lindholm and have scored 10 times in their 10 games this season. They are 0-5-1 on the road this season after an 0-4-1 trip.

Andersen made 32 saves and fell to 0-5-2 despite a 2.05 goals-against average and a save percentage of .932.

Almost nothing has gone right for the Ducks so far this season.

"We can sit there and say it was a bad goal, but [Andersen] did make four great saves after that and it was 2-1 so he kept us in the game," Boudreau said. "We didn't have the chances in the third period; 5-on-5 we were competing really hard and that's all I can ask for."

The Blues got a bit of a scare when Tarasenko was hit by Anaheim's Shawn Horcoff with four minutes to play in the second period. He left the ice favoring his left leg and did not return for the remainder of the period but came back for the third and got a rousing ovation from the 16,904 in attendance.

"Good. Good. I feel good," Tarasenko said. "It was really loud. Thanks for fans here."

Lindholm gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead by scoring Anaheim's third power-play goal of the season. He took a feed from Corey Perry to the left of Allen, who stopped the first couple of attempts, but Lindholm continued to whack at the puck before slipping it past Allen on the short side 2:33 into the second period.

It was the Ducks' second goal in the second period this season. They've been outscored 13-2.

The Blues tied it on Tarasenko's team-leading sixth goal. He converted a 2-on-0 play with Jori Lehtera after the Ducks had a terrific chance to go up 2-0. Cam Fowler's pass through the crease went of the skates of Perry and Carl Hagelin onto the stick of Blues forward Steve Ott. His pass sprung Tarasenko and Lehtera, and Tarasenko beat Andersen at 6:18 of the second period.

"We have a couple 2-on-0's in our hockey career together," Tarasenko said. "It's fun to play with him. ... It was my first 2-on-0 goal in my NHL career. It was pretty fun.

"That's how coaches teach us in Russia; if you go 2-on-0, make a pass at the blue line and let the guy do whatever."

Despite being without some key players in Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle), Paul Stastny (broken foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder surgery), the Blues are finding ways to accumulate points. They need all the points they can get in a competitive Central Division.

"This is a really tight group in here guys," Ott said. "You can never replace guys like [Shattenkirk] and [Stastny] and [Schwartz] and even [Scottie Upshall] for that fact too. With all these guys, you can't. We've got a lot of young guys in the lineup, we're all pushing each other, we're a really tight-knit group, our goaltending is playing great and when you do so you're getting a recipe to win. The practices have been tough. We're grinding each other, trying to make each other better at the same time to kind of push forward and when we get those bodies back it's only going to help us and right now we're picking up some valuable points."

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