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Blues seek 2nd home win against struggling Ducks

by Brian Hunter
DUCKS (0-2-0) at BLUES (1-0-0)

Season series:
First of four meetings this season. The teams split last season's series, with Anaheim picking up an additional point by virtue of a 4-3 shootout win in St. Louis on Jan. 23. Bobby Ryan of the Ducks and Andy McDonald of the Blues led all scorers with four goals, and Jonas Hiller won two of his three starts in the Anaheim net.

Big story:
Winning games on home ice with any sort of consistency was a major problem for St. Louis most of last season and one of the biggest reasons why the Blues missed the playoffs. They got off to a solid start at Scottrade Center on Saturday by defeating the defending Eastern Conference champion Flyers in overtime, and now look for a second straight before heading out on a three-game road trip. Anaheim, meanwhile, looks to salvage the finale of its own three-game road swing.
Team Scope:
Ducks: The road wasn't a particularly kind place for Anaheim last season (14-21-6), and stops in Detroit and Nashville to begin the new campaign have not exactly been what the doctor ordered. The Ducks yielded four goals in each game, permitting a total of 92 shots against, and managed only Saku Koivu's score 5:25 into the second period against the Predators on Saturday. That lifted Anaheim into a 1-1 tie, but Steve Sullivan answered with a power-play goal just over three minutes later to spark three unanswered for Nashville.

"It's tough having to play from behind all the time, but it is only Game 2 right now," new captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We're a learning team right now, and we have to take things out of tonight and go forward with it."

Blues: Jaroslav Halak made his much-anticipated debut against Philadelphia and was one of the heroes in a 2-1 victory. St. Louis opened the scoring late in the first period on a power-play goal by Brad Boyes. After Danny Briere answered in the third to force overtime, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo beat Brian Boucher on a one-timer 1:47 into the extra period. Halak, lauded for his performance in Montreal's run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, stopped 29 shots in his first game with the Blues.

"It's great to win the first game, the home opener," Halak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The fans were great tonight. I was really surprised by them."

Who's hot: Ryan and Teemu Selanne haven't put the puck in the net yet, but they've combined for 17 shots in the Ducks' first two games. Hiller has posted a .913 save percentage despite being constantly under siege. … Alexander Steen assisted on both goals by the Blues on Saturday and tied Colaiacovo with a team-high three shots, while Halak seemed to pick up right where he left off last spring.

Injury report: For Anaheim, defensemen Toni Lydman (double vision) and Andy Sutton (broken thumb) and forwards Joffrey Lupul (back) and Jason Jaffray (knee) are out indefinitely. … For St. Louis, forward Cam Janssen (head) is questionable, while forward Vladimir Sobotka (shoulder) and defenseman Nikita Nikitin (broken wrist) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is averaging over 25 1/2 minutes of ice time in the first two games of the season. … Boyes' goal Saturday was the Blues' only conversion in 10 power-play opportunities.

Puck drop:
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle saw enough positives from his offense Saturday that he was hardly in a panic after the game. Teams often talk about "puck luck" and the Ducks just didn't have any against the Predators.

"We had all kinds of chances," Carlyle said. "I think Bobby Ryan put one off the crossbar. I think Corey Perry put one off the crossbar. We have to keep that shoot-first mentality. Get that puck directly to the net."
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