Ducks Close Out Road Slate at St. Louis
DUCKS (38-31-11) at BLUES (39-32-9)
Anaheim 5-2-3; St. Louis 6-4-0
Fourth and final meeting. Ty Conklin stopped all 26 shots he faced and ex-Duck Andy McDonald scored twice in a 5-0 St. Louis win on Oct. 17. Anaheim then responded with a pair of victories in January, including a 4-3 shootout decision in the most recent matchup on Jan. 23 at Scottrade Center. James Wisniewski
had the decisive tally in the seventh round.
Keith Tkachuk announced earlier this week that he will hang up his skates at the end of the season. Since the Blues aren't playoff-bound, that means the veteran power forward's final home game will be Friday. The team will pay tribute to him afterward. Tkachuk is ninth on the team in scoring this season, with 13 goals and 30 points in 66 games.
The last four games Anaheim has played have all resulted in shootouts, with the Ducks coming out on the wrong end three times. Thursday's game in Dallas probably shouldn't have gotten that far. In what might have been his final game on home ice, Mike Modano handed the Ducks a 3-2 loss by scoring the tying goal with 1:47 left in regulation and then beating Jonas Hiller
again in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. Hiller was otherwise spectacular in his return to the lineup with a season-high 49 saves, two short of the franchise record (which he tied last season).
"This was a great night for a player that played a number of years and has been the face of the franchise, not only in Minnesota but here," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
After winning five of six to make a furious final push at getting back into the race, St. Louis fell 6-5 in Chicago on Wednesday. The Blues nearly rallied from a 6-1 deficit, trimming it all the way down to one when Brad Boyes scored on a penalty shot with 30.9 seconds remaining. Tkachuk missed the game with a lower-body injury, but is expected to be back in the lineup Friday.
"If anything, he gives us more to play for," forward David Backes said. "He was a warrior for 19 years in this league.
"It was almost semi-disrespectful that the night he says he's going to retire that we put the sort of effort we did in the first half of the game."
Who's hot: Bobby Ryan
scored twice for Anaheim in Thursday's loss and has three goals and three assists in his last four games. … McDonald has two goals and four assists during a four-game points streak for St. Louis. David Perron has a goal and four assists during a four-game points streak.
Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf
is nursing a sprained left ankle, while forward Joffrey Lupul
(back surgery) and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky
(broken right hand) are also out. … Tkachuk and McDonald (undisclosed) are day-to-day for the Blues, as are forward Patrik Berglund (upper body) and defenseman Barret Jackman (upper body).
In an even 1,200 career games with Winnipeg, Phoenix, Atlanta and St. Louis, Tkachuk has recorded 538 goals and 1,063 points. He had a pair of 50-goal seasons with the Coyotes, including a career-high 52 in 1996-97. The previous season, Tkachuk put up 50 goals and a career-high 98 points. He had 28 goals and 56 points in 89 career playoff games.
While both teams have been picking up their fair share of points lately, it was too little, too late to save either from playoff elimination. Even still, 90 points is a significant accomplishment and remains within reach for the Blues and Ducks, even at 87 entering play Friday.