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Payne shoots for first win at Anaheim

by Brian Compton

BLUES (17-18-7) at DUCKS (17-19-7)

Last 10: St. Louis 3-5-2; Anaheim 4-6-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. St. Louis cruised to a 5-0 victory against the Ducks on Oct. 17 at the Honda Center behind a pair of goals from Andy McDonald and 26 saves by Ty Conklin.

Big Story: The Blues are still a work in progress under new coach Davis Payne, who replaced the fired Andy Murray last Saturday morning. After dropping a 6-3 decision in Payne's debut at Chicago that night, Payne's club earned a point on Wednesday night in a 2-1 overtime loss at San Jose.

Team Scope:

Blues: Chris Mason was the story for St. Louis on Wednesday, as he made 42 saves against the Sharks and did everything he could to get his team a victory. But Patrick Marleau tied the game with less than eight minutes left in regulation before Dany Heatley scored on a breakaway in the extra session.

"I tend to think we made some progress tonight," Payne said. "I thought all four lines and all six 'D' and Chris Mason in net played a heck of a hockey game."

Ducks: Anaheim ended a three-game skid in impressive fashion on Tuesday night with a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings at the Honda Center. Jonas Hiller was sensational in a 38-save effort and Ryan Getzlaf returned to the lineup after missing four straight games due to a leg laceration.

Still, Anaheim has a long way to go if it intends to get back in the playoff race. Even with Tuesday's win, the Ducks are six points behind the fourth-place Dallas Stars in the Pacific Division and are 12 points behind the eighth-seeded Nashville Predators in the Western Conference.

"Desperation has to take place in our group," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We haven't won enough. We have to continue to build on the things. We just have to continue to work hard for our breaks."

Who's Hot: Blues forward Andy McDonald has seven goals in his last eight games, while Alexander Steen has points in five of six. … Hiller has won six of his last nine starts and has a 2.26 goals-against average and .933 save percentage during that span.

Injury Report: Blues forward Paul Kariya (upper body) is day-to-day, while D.J. King (hand) hopes to return this month. … Ducks forward Teemu Selanne has been out since Dec. 3 with a broken hand, but could return to the lineup on Thursday night. Joffrey Lupul is expected to miss another month with a back injury.

Stat Pack: Anaheim went 0-for-4 on the power play Tuesday night and hasn't scored in its last 10 chances. The Ducks have converted only once in their last 24 opportunities.

Puck Drop: "We were there. We were at the point that the second point that we were after was in grasp. We have to find a way to make sure we put ourselves in that position (in Anaheim)." -- Blues coach Davis Payne
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