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Ducks' Andersen continues to roll, shuts out Blues

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- One of the lingering questions going into this season for the Anaheim Ducks was who was going to be their No.1 goaltender – Frederik Andersen or John Gibson. The debate may be over, at least for now.

Andersen made 28 saves for his first career shutout and Sami Vatanen scored two power-play goals for Anaheim in a 3-0 win against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday at Honda Center.

There was some intrigue in training camp that Gibson might challenge Andersen for the No.1 job, but Andersen has picked up where he left off from last season. He again looked sharp in a career-high fifth straight start; his best save came on Alexander Steen on a 2-on-1 in the second period.

Andersen, who improved to 25-5-0 on his NHL career and joined Ross Brooks of the Boston Bruins in 1972-74 as the only goalies in NHL history to win 25 or more of their first 30 decisions.

Andersen said the shutout wasn't on his mind and had to be prodded some to see if he knew it was his first one.

"Oh, I knew," he said. "I knew I didn't have one. That's something you remember, obviously. It's like the players when they get their first goal, they'll remember that forever."

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said, "There's no doubt we're thinking about" the shutout. Boudreau actually didn't know it was Andersen's first shutout, though, until reporters told him.

"It was a good week," Boudreau said. "I hope the NHL is looking at who's playing goal all four games on the week when they do their Three Stars."

Boudreau said Gibson will be recalled from the American Hockey League on Monday.

Vatanen recorded his first multi-goal game. He buried a threaded pass from Ryan Getzlaf on the left side at 15:37 of the second period, and his shot from the right point made it through traffic at 17:53 of the first. The Ducks, who were the highest-scoring team in the NHL last season despite having the 22nd-ranked power play, are 6-for-24 this season.

"I think we move the puck a lot more than last year, and we just shoot it the best that we can," Vatanen said. "It's a fun time to score some goals. I enjoy it. I don't know where it comes [from]. It's just hard work and being in front of guys so we can get some goals."

Vatanen's prowess on the power play was evident in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, and Boudreau likes his maturity.

"I want them to all be Bobby Orr all the time, but it's a process," Boudreau said. "He's getting better. As he gets better, his confidence grows. If he continues this, this is what we want to see."

St. Louis was without center Paul Stastny, who sustained an upper-body injury from a hit by Arizona Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal on Saturday. The Blues also scratched center Jori Lehtera after coach Ken Hitchcock indicated at least one of his players might have the flu. The Blues inserted Magnus Paajarvi, Chris Porter and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, who made his NHL debut.

Anaheim looked re-energized at the start and St. Louis appeared sluggish on the second night of a back-to-back; the Blues had no shots on goal in the opening 12 minutes. The Ducks scored 1:37 into the game when Rickard Rakell's pass up the boards hit a linesman and bounced out to Matt Beleskey, who ripped a slap shot past Blues goalie Brian Elliott for his fourth goal this season.

It was the third game in four nights for St. Louis. Hitchcock said they purposely "stretched it out" in the third period Saturday to prepare for this game. But it didn't matter.

"They were a step ahead of us most of the night [and] I thought their checking was a step ahead," Hitchcock said. "Their puck support was a step ahead. They looked quicker on pucks and quicker to pucks than we were. They caught us on the back-to-back and took advantage of it."

St. Louis captain David Backes acknowledged how much they missed Stastny. The Blues lost 38 of 61 faceoffs and Anaheim blocked 14 shots, forcing St. Louis to miss 14 shots.

"He's a huge asset for us, no question," Backes said of Stastny. "He makes us a better team when he is in the lineup. [Injuries] do happen and we need to have other guys pick up the responsibility and the slack. We will have to move forward without him."

The Ducks have won nine straight against St. Louis at home and are 7-0-1 against the Blues in the past eight games.

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