After surviving a team-record losing streak, the St. Louis Blues now are thriving and will try to extend their current roll when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
The Blues absorbed eight straight regulation losses before reversing course with a five-game winning streak. Now they will face the Ducks twice at home in a span of three days.
St. Louis began its turnaround Nov. 10 with a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks at home. The Blues then took to the road to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2, the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 and the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 before coming home Thursday to earn a 5-4 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals.
Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly has four goals and three assists in his last six games after producing just one point in his previous 10 games. Winger Pavel Buchnevich has a goal and four assists in his last five games and he scored the shootout winner Thursday.
“Everybody in the locker room just say keep going, like positive emotion every day,” Buchnevich said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Even coming to the practice, everybody smiling and all that stuff.
“But when you’re losing like eight in a row, everybody’s sad, nobody’s smiling. It’s kind of tough.”
Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss kept the winning streak alive Thursday by making 47 saves in regulation and overtime, then making five stops in the shootout.
Having played the night before in Chicago, the Blues appeared fatigued in the face of Washington’s onslaught over the final two periods. St. Louis was unable to protect a 4-2 lead in the third period.
“For me, it boils down to checking and puck battles,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We got hemmed in our end too much and gave up too many shots. We were a little bit gassed (from being) on the road and coming back.”
Another mitigating factor for the poor defensive play was the absence of cornerstone defenseman Colton Parayko, who missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Rookie Tyler Tucker played his first two NHL games in Parayko’s absence.
The Ducks have just five victories in their first 17 games and none in regulation time. They come into the two-game set at St. Louis with four losses in their last five games and are the only team in the NHL without a regulation victory.
Anaheim played a strong game at Winnipeg on Thursday but lost 3-2 when Jets winger Kyle Connor scored in the final minute to complete his hat trick.
“We played 59 good minutes,” Anaheim center Trevor Zegras said. “I make a bad play on the wall and miss my guy going to the front of the net and the game’s over. I would say it’s kind of on me.”
Zegras had scored the game-tying goal at 14:43 of the third period before his defensive lapse.
“He scored a massive goal to get us back in the game at 2-2, but it’s a great reminder, especially to all of our younger players, that keeping pucks out of our net is just as important as putting them in their net,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said.
Zegras has a goal and three assists in his last three games and Adam Henrique has three goals and two assists in a current five-game points streak.
–Field Level Media