The St. Louis Blues will try to solidify their postseason hopes when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday and Wednesday nights.
The Blues hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division, three points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes, who have four games left compared with seven for St. Louis (23-19-7, 53 points).
The Ducks (16-29-7, 39 points) are last in the West Division.
In each of the past two games, the Blues have blown a 3-1 lead to start the third period and have given up a game-tying, empty-net goal in the final minute.
St. Louis rallied to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in overtime on Thursday but missed a chance to better its playoff chances on Saturday night when it lost to the Wild 4-3 in OT.
It’s the first time in franchise history the Blues have allowed a last-minute tying goal in back-to-back games.
“Just sitting back too much,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “We’ve got to pressure a little bit more and go expect to win. I think when you get a little tentative or sitting back, looking to block shots and stuff like that, you’re going to give them lanes, and they’re taking advantage of it.”
Reduced to the role of playoff spoiler, the Ducks basically ended the thin hopes of the Los Angeles Kings last week.
The Ducks and Kings played four straight games, and each side won twice, which wasn’t enough for Los Angeles to make up ground on the Blues.
The Ducks played one of their best games on Saturday night, scoring six goals in regulation for the first time this season and sending goalie Ryan Miller into retirement with a victory in the final home game of his 18-year career.
Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins is using the final stretch to take a long look at his youngest players.
Trevor Zegras, 20, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has formed a productive line with 22-year-old Max Comtois and 23-year-old Troy Terry.
Zegras and Comtois each celebrated a goal and an assist in the 6-2 Anaheim win on Saturday.
“It’s very contagious, that kind of excitement on the ice,” Eakins said. “You look to build off that.”
The Blues could be without two key players against the Ducks.
Vladimir Tarasenko has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, and Torey Krug missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.
Tarasenko, the leading goal scorer for the Blues for five straight seasons from 2014-2019, missed the first 24 games this season after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
Krug is the top-scoring defenseman for the Blues with one goal and 28 assists.
St. Louis should still match up well against the Ducks. The Blues are 4-1-1 against Anaheim this season, but they did lose the two most recent games to the Ducks, both in St. Louis.
Most recently, Anaheim rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Blues 3-2 in overtime on March 28.
The Blues should be focused on not blowing another lead on Monday.
“We’ve got to realize, it’s not because maybe we get one (goal), or whatever, that it’s just going to keep happening all night,” Blues forward David Perron said. “You’ve got to keep pushing all the way through.”
–Field Level Media