By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – If the Ducks felt any rust after a nearly three-week Olympic break, they certainly fought through it tonight against the visiting Blues.
In a bruising game that featured 60 combined hits but only 37 combined shots, the Ducks shut out St. Louis 1-0 in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 17,369 at Honda Center.
Jonas Hiller, an Olympian with Team Switzerland who was the first Duck eliminated in the tournament, saved all 18 shots he saw tonight for his fifth shutout of the season. He was helped by some hard work in front of him, as the Ducks blocked 27 St. Louis shots.
"We knew we had a great hockey club coming in here," Hiller said. "For being the first game in 20 days, I thought we did a really good job. Everybody really wanted to win tonight. Everybody was sacrificing their bodies tonight. The guys in front of me had more blocked shots than I had saves."
The Ducks, who had more rest following the Olympic break than any other team in the league, remained atop the NHL standings with a 42-14-5 record (89 points). They moved five in front of these Blues, who stayed tied at 84 with Chicago and Pittsburgh.
"It was a good first game for us in terms of the competition," said Andrew Cogliano, who had the game's only goal. "It was really high-paced. It’s good to jump into a game like that for the first one."
With the victory, Bruce Boudreau became the fastest coach in modern day history to reach 300 career wins.
"That’s how you win," said Boudreau, who improved to 300-137-59 in his NHL career. "You pay the price. If you don’t block shots in today’s game, you’re not going to be successful. We had guys doing a great job blocking shots. The [Daniel] Winniks and [Matt] Beleskeys were out there getting right in the shooting lanes. That’s part and parcel on why you win."
The game's lone goal came when Saku Koivu fed nicely ahead to Cogliano for a breakaway, and Cogliano backhanded it by goalie Brian Elliott (18 saves). It was the 18th goal of the season for Cogliano, tying a career high he previously reached twice with Edmonton.
St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, who had gone 24-9-4 this season, was traded with forward Chris Stewart to Buffalo earlier in the day in a five-player deal that brought goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott to the Blues. The trade forced the Blues to sign an emergency backup for the night, which ended up being Ducks locker room attendant Jeff Tyni, a former goalie in the ECHL.
The Blues' most serious threat came near the end of the second period when Ryan Reaves' shot hit the right post, trickled along the stripe and hit the left post while staying out of the net.
"They’re a tough team to play against. They have big guys, and it was quite a battle for all three periods," Hiller said. "We didn’t give them too much, especially in front of the net. We did a good job blocking shots and not giving them second opportunities. It was great to get that win."
Mathieu Perreault left the game and didn’t return in the third, after going hard into the boards and suffering an upper-body injury.
The Ducks, who improved to 23-5-2 at Honda Center, will continue their five-game homestand Sunday vs. Carolina.
Head Coach Bruce Boudreau earned the 300th win in his 496th career game (300-137-59), becoming the fastest coach in modern day history to win 300, and first to do so in fewer than 500 games coached. Toe Blake held the record previously, accomplishing the feat in 525 games. Boudreau reached the 200-win mark on Nov. 22, 2011 (w/ Washington) in 326 games (200-86-40), the fastest in modern day history.
Anaheim’s shutout victory tonight, was the first time they have shutout St. Louis at home since Oct. 9, 2006 (a 2-0 win) and the first time they have ever beaten the Blues 1-0 on home ice.
The Ducks are 14-6-0 in their last 20 games and 24-7-0 in their last 31 games. This is Anaheim’s 15th win in their last 21 games at Honda Center (15-5-1).
This remains Anaheim’s best ever start to a season (now through 61 games), topping the previous mark of 35-16-10 for 80 points in 2006-07. It’s also the deepest into a season that the Ducks have ever led the league in points (previously 48 games, 2006-07).
With 197 goals scored this season, the Ducks have scored the most goals through 58 games in club history. In addition Anaheim’s 143 goals allowed are the fewest in club history.
Jonas Hiller stopped all 18 shots he faced to record his fifth shutout of the season, tying him for the league lead. He also tied a career-high for shutouts in a season (2010-11) and this marks his 21st career shutout. He recorded his 26th win of the year, tying him for fifth in the NHL.
With his 18th goal of the season, Andrew Cogliano has tied his career high (twice 2007-08 and 2008-09 w/Edmonton).
Tonight's attendance was a standing-room-only sellout, 17,369.