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Blues looking to play spoiler in Anaheim

by Tal Pinchevsky
BLUES (31-29-9) at Ducks (37-27-5)
TV --
Last 10 -- St Louis 4-6-0; Anaheim 5-4-1
Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams, with the Blues holding a 2-1-0 edge so far thanks to 2 game-winning goals from Andy McDonald. In their last meeting, Feb 19, the Blues scored a season-high nine goals in a 9-3 victory in which a number of new arrivals shined for their new clubs. Jarkko Ruutu scored on his first shift as a Duck to give Anaheim an early lead, but a pair of power-play goals from new Blue Chris Stewart led the offensive charge in St Louis.
Big story -- Both teams are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. The Ducks, though, remain within reach of the top eight, while the Blues appear on the brink of playoff elimination. Not content to fade into the offseason, the Blues have done a good job playing spoiler the past week, making this an important home game for Anaheim.
Team Scope:
Blues --
As they embark on a four-game road trip, the next week could dictate how this season ultimately is remembered. With wins in three of their last four games, St Louis seems poised to make one last-ditch effort for a playoff spot.

Saturday against Detroit, David Backes and Matt D'Agostini scored third-period goals just 2:31 apart to tie the game 3-3. Detroit, though, replied with two quick goals of its own, taking the game 5-3 and halting the Blues' three-game win streak.

"I thought their penalty kill outworked our power play," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We didn't make very clean decisions, and in contact situations they won most of them, either physically or with the stick."
Ducks -- With a 5-2-0 record in their last seven games, the Ducks are staking their claim to a playoff spot, keeping pace with a playoff herd that slowly is starting to thin. This despite All-Star goaltender Jonas Hiller being out of action since a Feb 13 win in Edmonton.

Against the Coyotes on Sunday, Corey Perry opened the scoring early before Phoenix stormed back to win 5-2. Former Duck Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves to preserve the victory for the Coyotes. The Ducks pulled starting goaltender Dan Ellis after he allowed four goals in two periods, giving Ray Emery his first NHL action since Feb. 1, 2010.

"These points are too important," Ducks forward Todd Marchant said. "It was a four-point game tonight. We certainly know what is at stake. Having faced it last year, not playing in April and May, we don't want to get there again. It has to start here on Wednesday."
Who's hot -- D'Agostini has 4 points in his last two games, while linemate and former Duck McDonald has 8 points in his last five games. … Fresh off being named the League's Third Star for last week, Perry has 7 points on his current three-game point-scoring streak. Linemates Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf have three-game streaks of their own, boasting 6 and 5 points, respectively, in that span. Not to be outdone, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has 10 points in his last six games.
Injury report -- For the Blues, David Perron (concussion) and Vladimir Sobotka (foot) are on IR while Alexander Steen (ankle) and Barret Jackman (finger) are out for the remainder of the season. … Other than Hiller, who is out with vertigo-like symptoms, the Ducks have a healthy roster.
Stat pack -- All signs point to this being another high-scoring affair between these teams. They have combined for 29 goals in their three games this season, easily the highest non-divisional season series for either team.
Puck drop -- While there is no word yet on when or if Hiller could return this season, the Ducks certainly could use him. After going 12-4-0 to start the 2011 portion of the schedule, Anaheim has gone 5-6-1 and allowed 3.75 goals per game since his last start.
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