By Adam Brady (email@example.com)
ANAHEIM – In what has been a difficult first third of the season for Ducks center Brendan Morrison, feelings like the one he earned tonight have been few and far between.
Morrison was a hero for Anaheim, scoring the eventual game-winner with 2:37 left in the game to help defeat visiting St. Louis, 4-2. Morrison chipped in a loose puck in front of the Blues net to break a 2-2 tie and boost Anaheim to its fourth straight win at Honda Center. It was just the third of the season for Morrison, who has gotten off to a slow start in Anaheim after offseason knee surgery, and he celebrated it with a satisfied uppercut fist pump as the roars of the home crowd rained over him.
"It’s nice to get one," Morrison understated. "When you can contribute, it’s a good feeling."
|Morrison's goal with 2:37 left was the eventual game-winner for the Ducks.
The goal gave the Ducks a tenuous lead over the final minutes, as St. Louis put the pressure on after sending goalie Chris Mason to the bench for an extra attacker. But Anaheim sealed it when Samuel Pahlsson cleared the puck out of the zone and Chris Kunitz chased it down before throwing a right-hand-only shot that found the empty net with 3.7 seconds remaining.
It was the second of the night for Kunitz, who had originally given the Ducks a 2-1 lead on a power play goal in the second. With help from the strong play of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, that lead remained until a power play strike from Brad Boyes with 7:07 left in regulation. Boyes ripped a one-timer from the top of the left wing circle that Giguere had trouble seeing thanks to a screen from David Backes. The power play was set up following a questionable interference call on Chris Pronger.
But Morrison’s goal came exactly 4 ½ minutes later, after the puck was put in front of the net by Teemu Selanne and Morrison swiped at it a couple of times before knocking it through. It stood up for the Ducks, who won their sixth in their last eight.
"About 20 seconds before I scored, I had a wide open net," Morrison said. "I went to shoot it and Teemu just knocked it off my stick. I was like ‘Ah man, that’s the way things are going’. We kept the puck alive. It was basically a scramble and I was able to get my stick on it. "
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Morrison's goal was, "huge for him. He’s worked really hard and he’s been a good teammate. He’s done all the things we’ve asked of him and is as frustrated as anybody on the way things started here. It’s nice to see a player get rewarded."
In a second period marked by plenty of hostility, the Ducks took their first lead on Kunitz’s power play strike with 6:13 left in the session. That power play resulted from a scrum that featured a brawl between Corey Perry and the Blues’ Jay McClement. Each received five for fighting, while McClement got two more for roughing. (Barret Jackman and Steve Montador also received 10-minute misconduct punishments for jumping into the fray.)
"There were some emotions there," Morrison said. "I think that’s good at times, teammates getting involved. It gets others guys going. It’s part of the game."
The Ducks took advantage of the ensuing man advantage, as Ryan Getzlaf skated toward the net and laced a pinpoint feed across the crease to Kunitz, who batted it home.
The Blues had taken the first lead of the game despite going nearly the opening eight minutes without a shot on goal. B.J. Crombeen scooped up the puck following a Scott Niedermayer turnover and ripped a slap shot from the right wing that slid under Giguere. Crombeen had his first career hat trick two nights ago in a 6-3 win over Nashville.
|Giguere held strong down the stretch and saved 26 on his way to victory.
The Ducks fought back quickly thanks to more stellar play from the fourth line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Carter and George Parros. Ryan set up the goal by whipping a shot that rebounded off goalie Manny Legace to Parros, who punched it high over the goalie’s stick. It was the third goal of the season for Parros, a career high.
"Our line has found some chemistry," Parros said. "I think we’ve been playing well. We’d like to keep that going."
Right after the puck passed him, Legace was hit accidentally in the head by Ryan Carter’s knee and was woozy as he was helped off the ice. He didn’t return as Mason filled his spot the rest of the way.
Mason saved 22 of 24 shots in relief. On the other end of the rink, Giguere saved 26 for Anaheim.
"We seemed to step up the level of our intensity," said Carlyle. "That is important when you’re in situations like that to have that other gear to go to. We found a way to push one across the line. There were a lot of chances that we missed through the course of the evening."
The Ducks improved to 16-10-3 on the season and will be faced with one of their toughest challenges of the year when they face the Western Conference frontrunner Sharks in San Jose less than 24 hours later.
The Ducks have recorded points in seven of the last nine (6-2-1), nine of the last 12 (7-3-2) and 18 of the last 23 (15-5-3).
Anaheim has a four-game win streak at HOME and has picked up points in six of the last seven games at Honda Center (5-1-1).
The Ducks have won four straight at Honda Center vs. St. Louis and have gone 10-1-1 over the last 12 home games against the Blues.
Ryan Getzlaf’s has earned points in three straight games (2-2=4) and 11 of his last 12 (6-10=16). He has also earned points in 20 of the last 22 (12-23=35 with a +11 rating) and has a seven-game HOME point streak (5-5=10).
Chris Kunitz has earned 3-2=5 points in the last four games. Tonight marked his first multi-goal game (2-0=2) of the season and his first since Feb. 15, 2008 vs. DAL (2-0=2).
Bobby Ryan has collected 1-4=5 points in the last six games.
With two assists tonight, Teemu Selanne has recorded 2-3=5 points in the last five games.
In his last four outings, J.S. Giguere has gone 3-0-0, stopping 121-of-128 shots with a 1.91 GAA (7 GA/220 MIN) and .945 SV%.
Today’s attendance was 16,058.
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks score two late to put this one away, 4-2, and take their fourth straight at home.
19:56 - ANAHEIM GOAL (EMPTY NET) - CHRIS KUNITZ - With the St. Louis net vacated, Samuel Pahlsson clears the puck toward the red line, and Kunitz puts on the after-burners to chase it down past Roman Polak. He fends off Polak with the body before sliding the puck toward the net with the right hand and sneaking it in. This bad boy is over.
18:45 - The Blues empty their net.
17:23 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BRENDAN MORRISON - Huge goal for the Ducks and Morrison. Selanne sends the puck in front from behind the cage and it's bouncing around the crease before Morrison quickly gets the stick on it and chips it through. He skates away and unleashes a satisfied uppercut fist pump after his third of the year. The Ducks lead it 3-2.
15:38 - The Ducks are on the doorstep, but repeated shots can't get through.
15:00 - Somehow Getzlaf threads a pass through two guys from the point all the way to a waiting Selanne near the crease, but his redirect is stopped.
13:43 - STL Penalty - Eric Brewer, 2 min. interference. Let's see if the Ducks can get one back.
12:53 - ST. LOUIS GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BRAD BOYES - Boyes gets a pass from David Perron at the top of the left wing circle and rips a one-timer that Giguere has no chance at, as he's screened by David Backes. It comes on a power play that Pronger apparently didn't think St. Louis deserved, as he yells something at the official as he skates from the box back to the bench. Either way, we're tied 2-2.
12:18 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. interference. Pronger blocks the path of the Blues player as he chases the puck to the corner. Marginal call.
12:00 - ANA Penalty - Travis Moen, 2 min. roughing and STL Penalty - Keith Tkachuk, 2 min. roughing. Away from the play, Moen and Tkachuk gets into it right in front of the goal. Tkachuk throws a punch at Tkachuk and Moen somehow gets him back in the mouth, possibly accidentally with the stick even before the punch. They're down on the ice when Moen flips Tkachuk over as he rises up, as they go after each other before it's broken up.
10:10 - Giguere's looking solid, as he makes a nice stop on a hard slap shot from Roman Polak. I'm not going to even comment on that name.
6:28 - Carter fires a shot from the right wing that Mason stops, but the puck drops below him as Carter skates by and punches at it. It actually flies past Mason but rings the corner where the crossbar and far post connect. Tough break for the nicest kid in the world.
If you're wondering how Legace was feeling after getting smacked in the head by Carter's knee, here's an indication. He looks like he ate too much dinner.
3:03 - Mason's mask gets knocked off as the puck heads out to the blue line and the play is whistled dead. Somehow the crowd thinks they should boo that.
0:25 - ANA Penalty - Travis Moen, 2 min. tripping. Moen gets his stick caught in Eric Brewer's skate.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Another nice one for Anaheim, which gets in plenty of scuffles and gets a goal from Chris Kunitz to take a 2-1 lead.
17:20 - Morrison's slap shot nicks off Mason and flies just wide.
15:04 - A little pushing and shoving around the net as the Blues crash but can't get it through Giguere. Parros and Cam Janssen do some jawing after the whistle, but nothing comes of it. George looked to be saying plenty to Janssen, probably something like, "Not a good idea, kind sir."
Carter and Parros share a laugh on the Ducks bench. They're certainly pleased with the way things are going lately.
13:47 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - CHRIS KUNITZ - The Ducks make St. Louis pay for the rough stuff with the power play goal. Getzlaf takes the puck from Selanne near the extended goal line, then skates toward the net before threading the needle with a feed across the paint to Kunitz, who bats it through. Getzlaf somehow got the puck to slip under the arms of Colaiacovo, who was actually down on all fours to try and block the pass. Ryan Getzlaf is a ridiculously good player. Just thought I'd mention it. It's 2-1 Anaheim.
11:58 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 5 min. fighting and Steve Montador, 10 min. misconduct and STL Penalty - Jay McClement, 2 min. roughing and 5 min. fighting and Barret Jackman, 10 min. misconduct. More brawling as Perry and McClement get into it. It's a lot of clutching a grabbing, although Perry gets a few in before being thrown down into the wall. As Perry heads off he has words with Jackman, and Montador again jumps in. He throws a couple shots at Crombeen, who just stepped in to break things up. Things are pretty bitter out there.
Kiss Cam is back! And it's the mistletoe edition, highlighted by a couple of at least 80 laying one on each other. That's followed by a couple in which the woman kisses the dude and he responds afterward with a shake of his head. Healthy marriage, that one.
10:27 - Time runs out on the Niedermayer penalty in what becomes a huge kill for Anaheim.
10:00 - Giguere comes up big again, making the initial stop and denying the Blues as they try to slap at the loose puck.
9:03 - Blues take timeout.
9:03 - Giguere makes a big save with the glove off a Backes shot and holds it.
8:27 - ANA Penalty - Scott Niedermayer, 2 min. delay of game. Scotty tries to tap a puck bouncing high against the wall and he sends it over.
7:45 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant
, 2 min. holding.
7:43 - Selanne comes around again from behind the net, tries to center it to Morrison, but Mo can't handle it.
7:12 - Selanne skates seemingly around all five Blues to go behind a net and give Marchant a sweet feed, but his one-timer is stopped.
5:21 - The Ducks are clearly not happy about Stastny's move, and right off the ensuing draw, Steve Montador and B.J. Crombeen drop the gloves. Montador does most of the damage and makes sure to give him a few more punches to the face after he
goes down. That's good stuff.
5:19 - Away from the play, Ryan Carter
and Yan Stastny drop the gloves. Carter gets in a few lefts while simultaneously holding Stastny's jersey. Then Stastny pulls Carter to the ice and decides it's okay to then punch Carter in the back of the head. Carter pops up and gives Stastny a straight right to the face right as the officials step in. Carter looks a little dazed, and the official gives him a light slap to the face to make sure he's awake, but he got a heck of a shot in.
3:50 - Selanne outskates everybody to chase down the puck down the right wing, then gives Morrison a great feed in front, but the one-timer hits Mason in the chest.
3:05 - It's a virtual explosion between the circles, as a collision causes on stick to go flying and another to break in half.
0:19 - Pronger feeds a streaking Selanne, whose one-timer is stopped and held by Mason.
0:00 - Underway in the second with the Ducks still on the power play.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - And it's a heck of a stanza for the Ducks, who outshoot the Blues, 14-5 and are tied 1-1 on a Georgie Parros goal.
19:15 - STL Penalty - Yan Stastny, 2 min. delay of game. Stastny flips it right out of the rink, and it's caught by a guy in a Santa hat. That should make it a double minor. Just something to think about.
18:51 - The Ducks kill it, as justice prevails.
18:25 - Great save by Giguere, as he kicks out the pad to save a Tkachuk redirect.
16:51 - ANA Penalty - Travis Moen, 2 min. tripping. That would be a great call if Moen actually did trip him. Replays show it was nothing more than a light check and the crowd is not pleased as they watch it on the board.
15:15 - Getzlaf's back out there and he's moving pretty well. All together now: PHEW
It's trivia time as tonight's contestant is holding what looks to be a six-month old as he's asked what franchise record did Jean-Sebastien Giguere set on Feb. 1, 2008 at St. Louis. He guesses most career shutouts and ... he's right! You might remember that was actually a scoreless tie through overtime and the Ducks lost in the shootout on an Andy McDonald goal. Worst ... shutout ... ever.
13:25 - Chris Mason goes in for Legace, who looks very woozy after taking that hit to the head. Mason gave up four goals on 26 shots in losing to the Ducks 5-2 on Nov. 5 at Honda Center.
13:25 - ANAHEIM GOAL - GEORGE PARROS - Bobby Ryan skates deftly around Yan Stastny and whips a shot on net that bounces hard off Legace. The long rebound comes out to Parros, who punches it back on net, high over the stick of Legace. To add injury to insult, just after the puck whizzes by Legace, he's slammed in the head accidentally by Ryan Carter's knee. And he's starry-eyed as the trainer comes out to tend to him and eventually leads him slowly off the ice. It's 1-1 Ducks.
12:29 - ST. LOUIS GOAL - B.J. CROMBEEN - Under pressure from Alex Steen, Scott Niedermayer turns over the puck at the blue line. Crombeen picks it up, races into the Anaheim zone and lets go of a slap shot that gets under Giguere. Crombeen had his first career hat trick in his last game (and some idiot blogger predicted he wouldn't get another one tonight). It's 1-0 Blues.
11:45 - Marchant makes a nice feed to Selanne in the slot and his one-timer is kicked away. It's even-strength, so that goal's not happening.
10:40 - Bobby Ryan
gets off a nice one-timer from the slot, saved by Legace, as that fourth line tries to keep the momentum going.
7:53 - Backes gets off St. Louis' first shot of the game, and the shot off the rebound gets behind Giguere but goes wide.
Inexplicably, the tennis balls are sitting one section to their right and several rows higher. Not only that, they have a third -- possibly their son -- with them.
6:55 - Getzlaf goes on the ice and skates around a little bit during the timeout. He's on the bench right now.
6:55 - The Ducks are putting the pressure on, as we go to the first timeout with them outshooting the Blues, 7-0.
5:05 - Replays show Getzlaf took a puck to the lower body area.
4:55 - And there he goes into the locker room. Not good again.
4:01 - Not good. Getzlaf went down hard and limps to the bench. He's in the tunnel right now. If he keeps going, we're a little worried.
2:45 - STL Penalty - Carlo Colaiacovo, 2 min. tripping. Colaiacovo falls to the ice and trips up Selanne as the Flash is racing up the left wing. Here's hoping I don't have to type Colaiacovo's name too often tonight, as he leads the league in consecutive vowels and total vowels overall.
1:40 - Getzlaf digs the puck out near the crease and fires an backhander at the open net that somehow flies off the mark.
Verrrry quiet in here.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center in front of a late-arriving (or not-arriving) crowd.
7:08 p.m. First-timer Brad Haynes looks like an ordinary joe in a Ducks jersey from the 2006-07 season, until he opens his mouth and sings. Heck of a nice job. And add Manny Legace to the list of NHL guys who skate off the line before the anthem is over. Isn't he worried he'll trip over a carpet again?
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jean-Sebastien Giguere; STL Manny Legace
Starting Skaters - ANA Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Kent Huskins; STL Keith Tkachuk, Brad Boyes, David Backes, Barret Jackman, Jeff Woywitka
Scratches - ANA Nathan McIver, Brian Sutherby, Brad May; STL Mike Weaver, T.J. Oshie