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Ducks end grueling week by visiting Blues

by Mike Battaglino

DUCKS (19-7-5) at BLUES (19-5-3)


Last 10: Anaheim 4-2-4; St. Louis 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of three games. Last season, the Anaheim Ducks won two of three against the St. Louis Blues, one in a shootout, with the loss in overtime.

Big story: Anaheim will complete a weeklong run against the top teams in the Western Conference standings, with the first three games decided by shootout.

One night after a 3-2 win against the first-place Chicago Blackhawks, the second-place Ducks face the fourth-place Blues. Anaheim lost to the tied-for-second San Jose Sharks 4-3 last Saturday, and to the fifth-place Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Ducks: This will be Anaheim's 20th road game of the season; the Ducks are 9-7-3. Only the New York Rangers have played as many as 18.

"It seems like we've been on the road every week and it's been rough," goalie Jonas Hiller told the Ducks website. "If you have success, it's easier to play those road games. We have a tough one coming up tomorrow and then [we're] back home. We're definitely looking forward to after Christmas. Glad we got them out of the way early."

Hiller faced 76 shots, plus 12 shootout attempts, in the past two games, so Frederik Andersen could play for the first time since last Friday.

Andersen has opened his NHL career 7-1-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. He has given up more than two goals twice in seven starts.

Blues: St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock put together a line of Patrik Berglund, Maxim Lapierre and Magnus Paajarvi in the second period Thursday against the New York Islanders. Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he'll keep them together Saturday.

"Paajarvi looked like he was back on task the way he was before he got hurt, which was real good for us because he was a real good player in the game," Hitchcock said Thursday. "I thought Lapierre was very effective as a [wing] today."

Paajarvi, who has missed time as a healthy scratch, with an upper-body injury, then an illness, scored his second goal of the season in the 5-1 win.

"The more you play the more you get into it and you don't really think," Paajarvi (11 games played) told the Blues website. "... I was playing well and then I got injured for a couple weeks and then I was playing well again and I got sick, so hopefully I can stay consistent here."

Hitchcock said Jaroslav Halak will start in goal.

Who's hot: Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf has at least a point in his past 12 games played (nine goals, nine assists). Linemates Corey Perry and Dustin Penner each has a six-game point streak of five goals, three assists. … Blues forward Alexander Steen has six points in his past six games after going three games without one. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has four points in the past two games. Forward Derek Roy has five in his past four.

Injury report: Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault (lower body) was added to injured reserve Thursday. Also out are defenseman Francois Beauchemin (upper body), goalie Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation), defenseman Luca Sbisa (torn hand tendon), forward Jakob Silfverberg (broken hand) and defenseman Sheldon Souray (torn wrist tendon). Silfverberg and Beauchemin are on the two-game trip for conditioning purposes. … Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) and forward Ryan Reaves (hand) are on injured reserve.

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