The Anaheim Ducks started from the bottom, now they’re here: the top of the Pacific Division, as they beat won in Los Angeles 3-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.
Anaheim‘s first goal wasn’t scored until 23:16 of play had passed, courtesy of a Ryan Kesler wrister, assisted by Second Star of the Game Jakob Silfverberg. 7:58 later, First Star Milan Lucic capitalized on a Cam Fowler slashing penalty, scoring a wrister for his 15th tally of the season, assisted by Vincent Lecavalier and Jonathan Quick. With 4:03 remaining in the second period, the Ducks scored their second goal off a David Perron power play tip-in, assisted by Fowler and Sami Vatanen (his 28th helper of the season), giving them a 2-1 lead they would keep into the intermission.
2:24 after resuming play, the Ducks scored their eventual game winner, a Silfverberg power play wrister, assisted by Rickard Rakell (his 19th helper of the season) and Hampus Lindholm. It became the winner due to Drew Doughty’s power play wrister finding the net only 1:03 later, assisted by Lucic and Anze Kopitar (his 36th helper of the season), but the Kings were unable to level the score before the final horn.
Third Star Frederik Andersen earns the win after saving 32 of 34 shots faced (94.1%), while Quick takes the loss, saving 19 of 22 (86.4%).
After the second straight road win in the DtFR Game of the Day series, the record stands at 64-36-13, favoring the home squads by 32 points over the roadies.
Hope you enjoy matinee games, because a majority of this Sunday’s games are just that. Four games drop the puck at 5 p.m. eastern (Detroit at Chicago [NHLN], Dallas at Ottawa, Pittsburgh at New Jersey and the New York Islanders at the New York Rangers). Edmonton at Winnipeg gets started at the usual time of 7 p.m. eastern, followed an hour later by this evening’s nightcap, St. Louis at Minnesota (NBCSN).
Half of today’s games are divisional matchups (Pittsburgh at New Jersey, Islanders at Rangers and St. Louis at Minnesota), and another set of three feature teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Detroit at Chicago, Islanders at Rangers and St. Louis at Minnesota). St. Louis at Minnesota is also a rematch of one of last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals.
As usual, I try to choose the game that qualifies for the most of those lists, and today is no exception. Off to the State of Hockey!
Tonight’s game will be St. Louis‘ 15th appearance in our series where they own a 7-6-1 record. Their most recent showing under our supervision was February 27, a horrendous five goal shutout loss in Nashville. Minnesota has been featured eight times before tonight’s game, and own a 5-3-0 record in such games. Their most recent showing in the series was this Tuesday, a 6-3 victory over the Avalanche to propel them into a playoff position.
The 37-20-9 St. Louis Blues currently sit in third place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference. To get to that position, they’ve played the ninth best defense in the league, but they’ve been held back by the 11th worst offense.
So far this season, the Notes have allowed only 1966 shots to reach 20-13-3 Jake Allen and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for 162 goals against, the ninth fewest in the league. St. Louis intensifies their efforts on their second ranked penalty kill, neutralizing 86.34% of their infractions for 31 power play goals against.
Even with Vladimir Tarasenko’s team leading 236 shots, the Blues have fired the puck 1970 times, with only 8.2% finding the back of the net for 166 goals (led by Tarasenko’s 30 tallies), 11th fewest in the league. Although the overall success hasn’t been there for the Blues, the offensive special team has also been a force to be reckoned with, scoring on 21.81% of opportunities, good for 41 power play goals (led by Tarasenko’s dozen), the sixth best rate in the NHL.
The Blues are currently riding a two game win streak, with their most recent being a 4-3 marathon shootout victory in Ottawa on Tuesday. A St. Louis win paired with a Dallas loss pulls the Blues into a tie with the Stars for second place, but Dallas would still own the regulation+overtime win tiebreaker.
The 31-25-10 Minnesota Wild currently occupy fifth place in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference, good enough for the second wildcard. To get to that position, they’ve played the 10th best defense, paired with the 15th worst offense. A more in-depth analysis of their play can be found within Tuesday’s article.
Minnesota is currently riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being 2-1 victory in Toronto on Thursday. A win by the Wild is doubly effective, as it would not only pull them within four points of Nashville, who is currently leading them for the top wildcard spot, but it would also improve their lead over Colorado, the team chasing them for the second wildcard spot, to four points.
Minnesota currently leads the season series 2-1-1, but it was St. Louis who won the last meeting exactly a month ago 4-1. These squads also met in the playoffs last year, where the Wild beat the Blues four games to two in the Western Quarterfinals.
Some players to keep an eye on in this evening’s game include Minnesota‘s Devan Dubnyk (four shutouts [tied for fifth best in the league]) & St. Louis‘ Allen (five shutouts [tied for second most in the league]) and Tarasenko (30 goals [sixth most in the league]).
Both squads enter this evening’s game well rested and riding a win streak. Seeing as Minnesota is playing host and has the better offense of the two, I think it will be the Wild taking two points this evening, but I don’t think it’s too far fetched that it won’t require overtime or a shootout.