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Woes continue for Blues with shootout loss to Ducks

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Nick Bonino was visibly shaken ... but for good reasons.

The Anaheim Ducks center scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give his team a 6-5 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. It was Bonino's first shootout attempt of his career and first game-winning goal.

"It feels really good. I'm still shaking," Bonino said. "I've never had a game-winner."

The Ducks scored on four of six shootout attempts, including Saku Koivu, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

"We needed these two points; that was essential,” said Ducks wing Bobby Ryan, who picked up two goals and two assists. “We played better tonight. It’s a big night for us."

A night after slumbering through a 3-1 loss at Dallas, the Ducks (8-2-1) got back on the horse after falling behind by a pair of goals in the first period against a Blues team that fell to 0-3-1 in its last four games.

"I’ve been in the position that team is in when you’re just playing well and you’re not winning games," Ryan said. “It’s tough for them, I know. We’ve been there."

Added veteran Teemu Selanne, who added his second four-point night of the season: "This was a good, character win. From (Friday) night, this was great to bounce back this way."

St. Louis got shootout goals from David Perron, Chris Stewart and Alex Steen.

The Blues thought they had the winner with 22.2 seconds left in overtime when Ian Cole beat Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth, but the officials waved the goal off, calling Patrik Berglund for incidental contact with the goalie. Replays showed Francois Beauchemin give a bit of a push to Berglund, forcing the contact.

"I was pretty excited. I blacked out for a second ... I don't know what happened," Cole said. "I usually just score one goal a year, so that's it. I'm done now. You go from a pretty high to I guess shock almost. You're like, 'Wait, what just happened?'

"I didn't really see it. I didn't get an explanation. Obviously, the refs didn't want to talk to me. I guess it was goalie interference. I didn't see it, but it is what it is. We still tried to get one there in the last 20 seconds."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thought Berglund was shoved.

"Yeah, I thought he was pushed," Hitchcock said.

Koivu collected a goal and an assist and Beauchemin picked up a pair of assists to help the Ducks overcome a two-goal deficit. Fasth, after a tough start to the game, stopped 26 shots to pick up his fifth win in as many starts to begin his NHL career, tying San Jose's Norm Schaefer (Oct. 26-Nov. 5, 2005) for best start to begin an NHL career.

"It’s not all peaches and cream,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of Fasth. "The thing is he won, and that’s all that counts. (Former Boston goalie) Gerry Cheevers once said he wouldn’t have cared if it was 1-0 or 10-9; he made that save to win the game."

The Blues, who allowed five or more goals in four straight games for the first time since Oct. 25-Nov. 4, 2005, got a goal and an assist from David Backes, Steen and Stewart, Perron and T.J. Oshie also scored goals and Kevin Shattenkirk and Andy McDonald picked up a pair of assists.

But for the first time since taking over as Blues coach, Hitchcock was publicly displeased with his starting netminder Brian Elliott, who's manned the net since the groin strain to Jaroslav Halak.

Halak could return on Monday, but Elliott had another less-than-stellar performance, stopping only 18 of 23 shots and Hitchcock said Jake Allen would start Monday against the Kings if Halak is not ready.

"Not playing very good. Not much I can say ... not playing very good," Hitchcock said of Elliott's play. "He'd be the first to tell you too. He's got to play better. If Jaro's not ready, then we'll play Jake Monday.”

Elliott, who was part of the best goalie tandem in the National Hockey League last season with Halak when they won the Jennings Trophy, saw his record fall to 3-4-1 with a 3.51 goals-against average and .853 save percentage. This, after he was 23-10-4 with nine shutouts, 1.56 GAA and .940 save percentage.

"A goalie's no different than a defenseman or a forward," Hitchcock said. "Guys come in and out of the lineup based on their performance. You can't stay in the lineup if you don't play well. I don't care who you are. He's got to play better."

Hitchcock was looking for a better start from his team and got one, as the Blues jumped on the Ducks with relentless pressure and took a 3-1 lead.

Steen netted his first of the season, as the Blues improved on their League-leading power play that came in 13-for-39 on the season, ripping a slap shot through Fasth's five-hole 6:21 into the game.

After Ryan got the Ducks even with a goal Elliott would like to have back at 11:09, Backes scored the Blues' first 5-on-5 goal in the last 182:26 when he collected a deflected shot at the top of the circle and snapped a wrister top shelf with 4:30 remaining in the period.

Perron got his third of the season when he collected Shattenkirk's point shot and fired into an open side after a Fasth save with 34 seconds left to give the Blues a two-goal lead.

But the ice tilted heavily in favor of the Ducks in the second, who got goals from Selanne, Andrew Cogliano and Ryan in a span of 1:41 to erase a two-goal deficit.

Selanne netted his 667th career goal when Koivu's shot from the slot deflected off a Blues defender to the side of the net, where Selanne won't miss many open sides at 12:40 to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Cogliano tied it 45 seconds later when his shot from a bad angle went in off Elliott's left skate as the Blues netminder was moving post-to-post, and Ryan picked up his second of the game off broken coverage, and Ryan roofed a wrister at 14:21 to give the Ducks their first lead of the game.

"We went from playing well to not-so-good and then we finished well," Steen said. "There's not much more to say. We got a point, but we need to play better through 60 minutes.

"We just made mistakes again. We went back to what we were doing the last couple games, straightened it out again in the third."

Instead of wilting, the Blues got the equalizer from Oshie, who pursued Ducks' defenseman Toni Lydman and poked the puck through traffic with a heavy forecheck that sneaked past Fasth to tie the game 4-4 3:21 into the third.

Koivu gave the Ducks a 5-4 lead when he one-timed Ryan's pass high into the goal past Elliott with 6:19 remaining, but Stewart popped home a puck at the side of the net, a Steen shot through traffic on the power play again with 4:34 to play to tie the game 5-5. Fasth had given up only five goals in his previous four starts.

The Ducks improved to 4-1-1 on the road and jumped over San Jose in the Pacific Division standings.

"We came out a little flat tonight, but for us to hang in there and get two points, that's huge," Ryan said.

The Blues also announced during the game that veteran wing Jamie Langenbrunner will be sidelined indefinitely. Langenbrunner, 37, will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

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