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Ducks back in action, chasing season sweep of Blues

by Brian Hunter

BLUES (39-13-6) at DUCKS (41-14-5)


Last 10: St. Louis 6-3-1; Anaheim 5-5-0

Season series: This is the third and final game between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. The Blues will be looking for payback after Anaheim took the first two games in St. Louis. Ryan Getzlaf leads all scorers with two goals and four points, while Frederik Andersen earned both wins for the Ducks.

Big story: Two teams with aspirations of winning the Presidents' Trophy square off in a potential Western Conference Final preview. The Blues were blanked by the Vancouver Canucks in their first game out of the Olympic break, while the Ducks become the last of the 30 NHL teams to get back in action.

Team Scope:

Blues: Despite a 1-0 loss in Vancouver on Wednesday, St. Louis still has two games in hand on Anaheim and three on the Chicago Blackhawks in the race for Western Conference supremacy.

Jaroslav Halak bounced back from a rough go at the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Slovakia to stop 34 shots against the Canucks. Still, the Blues are one of the teams rumored to be in the market for a goaltender, perhaps Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.

Meanwhile, coach Ken Hitchcock threw a wrinkle into his lines Wednesday, moving Patrik Berglund to left wing on a line with U.S. Olympians David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

"I didn't know before because I never played it," Berglund said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of a switch from center to the wing. "But now I've been enjoying it. I like to forecheck and I think I'm pretty good at it, so now I can actually go whenever I want and be that guy. It puts me in spots where I like to be."

Berglund found himself back at center at the morning skate Friday, however.

Ducks: The international farewell tour of forward Teemu Selanne came to a storybook end when the Finnish Flash scored twice to help Finland win the bronze medal in Sochi. Now Selanne will turn his attention back to pursuing a second Stanley Cup championship.

"It was a great way to finish my national team career," said Selanne, who was named MVP of the Olympic tournament. "Now I'm back here, and it's also a good feeling. We have a great team here, and we have a mission. Hopefully the break will be good for our players. They can regroup and be ready for that last push. It's gonna be fun."

Those Ducks who didn't take part in the Olympics certainly had plenty of time to rest, with 19 days idle since a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 8. Now the entire team is back at work with a clear goal in mind.

"We just need to keep working hard," forward Jakob Silfverberg said. "We were outworking the opposing teams every night, and that's what we need to do to be successful. If you work hard, all the other stuff falls into place. We're going to try to win every battle and take it one game at a time."

Who's hot: Halak's numbers for the Blues have been stellar over his past seven starts, as he's allowed two goals or less five times, including a shutout. … Getzlaf had four goals in five games for the Ducks prior to the break, giving him a career-high 29 to tie for fourth in the League.

Injury report: St. Louis defenseman Jordan Leopold (ankle) missed the game Wednesday, while forward Vladimir Sobotka (leg) is on injured reserve. … Anaheim defenseman Mark Fistric (lower body) and forward Nick Bonino (upper body) are expected to be available. Goalie Viktor Fasth (lower body) is on a conditioning assignment with Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

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