ANAHEIM – It was only appropriate that on Corey Perry Night, the honoree and his vaunted top line finally broke through after a slow start to their season.
The so-called “RPG line” of Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan combined for their first six points of the campaign (including two Ryan goals) as the Ducks rolled to a third straight win, 4-2 over the visiting St. Louis Blues.
"We have been playing our style of game and getting our chances," Perry said. "That is how we have to play. If we continue playing like that, we are going to get scoring chances and eventually they are going to go in the net."
Perry was honored before the game ("a tremendous honor," he called it) for a 2010-11 season in which he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer. After scoring 50 last year, he got his first of the young season in the third period, part of a three-goal ambush that lifted Anaheim to victory in front of 14,555 at Honda Center.
The Ducks had won the previous two games while scoring just one goal in each, a first in franchise history. Tonight they scored a season-high four in getting off to a 3-1-0 start that is the best through four games since the Stanley Cup season of 2006-07.
"They have had their fair share of chances and tonight they were rewarded for some of the hard work that they have put in," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Hopefully, it just continues a trend for us. They are not going to get any easy assignments because they are going to draw all the top lines and top defensive pairs that the others teams have. Their work has just begun."
Anaheim broke open a 1-1 tie on goals by Francois Beauchemin, Ryan and Perry in the first 6 1/2 of the third period. Ryan got his second point of the night when he picked up the puck along the wall and fed Beauchemin for a rocketed slap shot that deflected off Nikita Nikitin and got past Jaroslav Halak.
The St. Louis goalie had been sharp before surrendering a Ducks onslaught that continued when Perry connected on the power play two minutes after Beauchemin’s goal. Teemu Selanne didn’t make good contact on a one-timer from the bottom of the circle, and the puck bounded into the crease, where Perry tipped it through. It was Anaheim's first power play goal of the season after entering the game 0 for 13.
"We knew that we would score eventually," said Carlyle of a Ducks power play that tied for second in the NHL last season. "But the longer you go, the more pressure mounts and guys start squeezing the sticks. Even tonight, some pucks bounced away from us."
Less than three minutes after Perry's goal, Ryan streaked to the middle of the ice to pick off a deflected puck, cutting in front of Roman Polak on a sprint to the net. He wristed a shot that Halak initially saved, but it trickled behind him and just over the stripe.
"I thought our first game here we were good," Ryan said of a 1-0 victory over San Jose two nights ago. "We just didn’t find the net. We hit a couple of posts. It was just a matter of time until we found the net. Hopefully, this is something we can roll with."
Ryan had gotten his first goal of the season just 2:20 after the opening puck drop, punching in a hard rebound off a Beauchemin slap shot just as a Nikitin holding penalty expired.
Halak denied a few other Ducks scoring chances, and St. Louis got even 5:43 into the second on a Patrik Berglund goal. Alex Pietrangelo’s wrist shot from the right point was knocked down by Berglund, and the puck skipped past Jonas Hiller.
The only other damage against Hiller (28 saves) came halfway through the third period, when Alexander Steen snuck a shot past the Anaheim netminder from a low angle. But it was too little too late for the Blues, who fell to 2-3-0.
Time will tell if Hiller will be in net again tomorrow night, when the Ducks jet up to San Jose for a rematch with the Sharks. .
The Ducks have allowed seven goals through their first four regular season games, the fewest ever allowed over their first four contests in club history. The previous low mark for goals allowed through four games was nine set in four separate seasons (97-98, 98-99, 99-00 & 06-07).
Jonas Hiller, who has started each of Anaheim’s four regular season contests thus far, has posted a 3-1-0 record (including one shutout) with a 1.71 GAA (7 GA/245 MIN) and .934 SV% (99-of-106).
Bobby Ryan scored 2-1=3 points tonight, marking his first multi-goal game since Feb. 13, 2011 at Edmonton and the 20th multi-goal game of his career.
Tonight marked Luca Sbisa’s fourth career multi-assist game (0-2=2 tonight) and first since Mar. 11, 2011 at Colorado (0-2=2).
Francois Beauchemin’s 1-1=2 points tonight marked his first multi-point game since Jan. 7, 2011 w/Toronto at Atlanta.
Tonight marked Sheldon Brookbank’s first point (0-1=1 tonight) since Jan. 27, 2010 at Washington (assist).
Tonight’s attendance was 14,555.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Solid 4-2 win for the Ducks, their third straight.
19:45 - Ducks have the puck forever with the net empty, but can't find a path to it.
18:30 - St. Louis net empty.
18:09 - Perry somehow almost sneaks the puck past Halak from behind the net. He's still good.
17:43 - Ducks survive the minute or so of power play time. Time to finish this bad boy.
15:43 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. holding. That wipes out the Ducks PP.
15:30 - Visnovsky has nobody in front of him for a one-timer from the ladies tees, but he mis-hits it.
14:48 - STL Penalty - Vladimir Sobotka, 2 min. boarding. Sobotka with a hit from behind on Beauchemin.
11:38 - RPG line gets on another rush, but Getzlaf surrenders the puck looking to return a pass.
10:40 - Gordon with a nice forechecking hit on Huskins in the corner.
9:38 - ST. LOUIS GOAL - ALEXANDER STEEN - Arnott picks up the puck off the back wall and feeds Steen, who somehow sneaks a shot through Hiller from a low angle at the bottom of the right wing circle. It's 4-2 on Steen's third of the year.
9:15 - Perry gets a pass from Ryan on the rush and fires over the cage. Halak may have gotten a piece.
HondaVision shows members of the cast of the movie Slapshot in the crowd, all wearing Chiefs jerseys. I had no idea they were here. Cool.
7:17 - Perry circles from behind the net and fires a shot that Halak tips away with the glove. Perry's head goes back in frustration.
6:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Ryan streaks to the middle of the ice to pick off the puck, after a Getzlaf stretch pass as deflected. He cuts in front of Polak before firing a wrist shot that Halak initially stops, but it trickles behind him and over the stripe. They do a quick replay review to see if Nikitin scooped it away before it went over the stripe, and the call stands. Crowd goes nuts and it's 4-1 Ducks on Ryan's second of the game.
3:40 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - COREY PERRY - Selanne doesn't make good contact on a one-timer from low in the left wing circle, and it bounces toward the crease, where Perry is there to tap it past Halak. First goal of the season for Perry, and it's on Corey Perry Night, no less. Ducks lead it 3-1.
3:15 - Getzlaf goes to one knee for the one-timer frpom the circle and hits his third post in the last two games.
1:59 - STL Penalty - Matt D'Agostini, 2 min. tripping. Agostini takes down Cogliano in transition.
1:31 - ANAHEIM GOAL - FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN - Boom Boom takes the puck from Ryan, winds and fires a missle of a shot from the left point that deflects off Nikitin and gets past Halak. Crowd erupts as it's 2-1 Ducks.
0:55 - Halak slides over to deny a sure Selanne goal off a great Getzlaf feed. He's been huge tonight.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, Ducks on the PP.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Blues get even, but Ducks have 1:19 of power play time when we come back.
19:41 - Perry with a slap shot into the gut of Halak.
19:19 - STL Penalty - Jason Arnott, 2 min. high sticking. Arnott gets caught in front of the net and the Ducks get a power play.
Tennis balls look like two dudes going to the movies together. They've got the buffer seat between them.
18:45 - Perry gets the stick lifted by D'Agostini at the last instant as he goes for a puck bouncing in front.
17:26 - Official whistles Macenauer for offside to snuff out a Ducks rush. Crowd not please with the zebras tonight.
17:01 - Sketchy moment as the puck sits near the post as Arnott pounces on it. Ducks and Blues have another scrum after the whistle, with Backes throwing two punches at Gordon and Gordon doesn't retaliate. No penalty.
15:04 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. roughing and 2 min. unsportsmanlike conduct and STL Penalty - Chris Porter, 2 min. roughing. Brookbank helps keep the puck out of the net as it bounces in front of Hiller, and contributes to some scuffling after the whistle for which Beleskey and Porter get time.
11:05 - Hiller's stop on Steen bails out Beauchemin, who made a bad giveaway to lead to it.
9:30 - Fowler just flat out takes the puck away from Nichol behind the Anaheim net. Kid's playing well so far this year.
7:50 - Perry is denied right on the doorstep by Halak. MVP's gotta break through soon.
6:45 - Ducks miss an opportunity when Visnovsky can't get good stick on a shot off a Perry feed.
5:43 - ST. LOUIS GOAL - PATRIK BERGLUND - A wrister from Pietrangelo from the right point is knocked down by Berglund with his back to the net and it skips by Hiller. Not a lot of noise after that goal and it's 1-1. Former Duck Kent Huskins got the puck to Pietrangelo to earn the second assist.
4:30 - Loose puck comes right to Cogliano, who is twice denied by Halak. Robbery.
4:07 - Deflected puck goes flying into the stands, where a dude in a Charlestown Chiefs jersey catches it and holds it aloft.
2:13 - Nice pass from Ryan to Cogliano, whose shot on the move from the slot is snagged by Halak.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A solid first ends with a 1-0 Ducks lead thanks to Ryan's first of the campaign.
19:04 - Ducks kill without giving up a shot.
18:05 - Hard collision between McMillan and Backes sends them both flying.
Three dudes in orange bodysuits sitting next to the penalty box again. Unfortunately, it's the Ducks box.
17:04 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. interference. Lydman knocks down Oshie near the wall behind the Anaheim net just after he loses the puck to Getzlaf. Not sure how that was interference.
Kiss Cam always makes me nervous when my dad and girlfriend are at the game together. And it ends in fine fashion, with a 50-something couple attacking each other.
Holy lord, Evgeny Grachec, center for the Blues, is huge.
11:39 - Big stop by Hiller on a Shattenkirk slap shot. By the way, his brother Keith works for us.
Cardinals-Brewers started at 5. Is anyone in St. Louis watching this game?
10:30 - Hiller dodges a bullet as the puck skids across the blue paint just out of Stewart's reach.
9:30 - Getzlaf on the ice with his normal line.
8:20 - Getzlaf not on the bench or ice last couple of shifts, but he's back. Maybe an equipment issue.
6:50 - Perry gets tripped to the ice in his own end and loses the puck. No call.
6:15 - McMillan skating on the second line in place of Blake, who is out three months with that arm laceration.
Perry caught looking at some of his own highlights from last year on the HondaVision during the TV timeout.
3:15 - Shots are 7-0 Ducks early. Power play helps that.
2:20 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Just as the power play ends, Beauchemin rifles a one-timer from the right point that richochets hard off Halak to Ryan, who chips it from the left circle into the open half of the net. First point by a member of the RPG line this season and it's 1-0 early.
1:27 - Ryan's pass attempt in front of the net gets knocked down and almost gets by Halak.
0:20 - STL Penalty - Nikita Nikitin, 2 min. holding. Right before the whistle, Halak makes a big stop on a Ryan shot off a nice Getzlaf cross-ice pass. By the way, Nikita Nikitin? Wow.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:07 p.m. - Another great anthem by Dawn Wright gives way to a presentation to honor Corey Perry's Hart Trophy, including footage from the NHL Awards that still gives me chills. Perry is brought to center ice to a loud applause, where the Hart and Rocket Richard Trophies are sitting on tables. He's then presented with a commemorative frame showing photos and press clippings of his MVP season, by Ducks CEO Michael Schulman. He looks ready to play some hockey.
Maroon was here for warmups after flying from Syracuse for the recall, but he will be a scratch and Matt Beleskey is inserted into the lineup for Blake. Starters in bold/italics.