The St. Louis Blues will resume their chase for the top Western Conference playoff seed when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
The contest is the makeup date for the Feb. 11 game that was postponed after Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester experienced a cardiac episode on the bench. Medical professionals revived Bouwmeester, who is out for the season after an implantable cardioverter defibrillator was placed in his heart.
“We’ve got to make it up,” Blues coach Craig Berube said of the game. “It’s kind of a weird situation, but we’ve got to go out there. We need the points, so we’ve got to focus on the game. That’s the bottom line.”
The Blues (41-19-10, 92 points) have won nine of their past 11 games. They lead the conference — and the Central Division — by two points over the second-place Colorado Avalanche.
The rebuilding Ducks (29-32-9, 67 points) are in sixth place in the Pacific Division and 11 points out of the second Western Conference wild-card slot. They are 5-5-2 in their past 12 games.
Anaheim defeated the visiting Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Tuesday night, getting the fastest hat trick in franchise history from Nicolas Deslauriers. The 29-year-old winger scored three goals in the first 11:49, and the Ducks led 4-0 after the first period.
The Ducks have found late-season offensive chemistry with Rickard Rakell playing on a forward line with Jakob Silfverberg and Adam Henrique. In the past four games, Rakell has two goals and five assists while Silfverberg has three goals and two assists.
The personal connection between Silfverberg and Rakell, both Swedes, helps build production.
“Just being countrymen, number one. They’re going to communicate a lot,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “They probably leaned on each away from the game, so I think there’s a great bond there between them. It starts there.
“They’re constantly talking on the bench. They’re usually sitting very close to each other on the bench. You can tell there’s a real mutual love between those two. It translates onto the ice when they play together.”
The Blues took a 2-1 loss to the visiting Florida Panthers in Monday as their offensive struggles continued. They have scored just five goals in their past three games, two of them losses.
“We want to win, obviously,” St. Louis goaltender Jordan Binnington said after the latest defeat. “We can win these games. They’re winnable games. It’s the time of year where you can’t make excuses and you’ve got to find ways to win, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The loss reminded the Blues how important it is to sustain offensive zone pressure.
“I thought we turned the puck over a little bit too much in the neutral zone,” St. Louis forward Robert Thomas said. “When we got it and got on our forecheck, we created a lot of chances, and it’s just a matter of doing that more consistently.”
The Ducks and Blues have met twice this season, both times in St. Louis, with Anaheim winning 4-1 on Nov. 16 and St. Louis prevailing 4-1 on Jan. 13.
Derek Grant, since traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, scored a hat trick for the Ducks in the November game while John Gibson stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced.
With Gibson nursing a mild groin strain, backup goaltender Ryan Miller faced the Senators on Tuesday, and he saved 40 of 42 shots. Miller could start again Wednesday.
–Field Level Media