Sam Steel and Max Jones each scored a goal and the Anaheim Ducks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 Friday night.
Anaheim goalie John Gibson stopped 33 shots in his first game back after missing five with a lower-body injury.
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“He was obviously our best player on the ice,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “Just a great, great performance by Gibson. He’s got a great feel for the game. It was not only inspiring but also comforting to know you’ve got that level of goalie in your net. He kept the puck out of the net. That’s what we need from Gibson.”
Derek Grant and Richard Rakell added empty-net goals in the final 63 seconds to help the Ducks win for the second time in nine games. It was Anaheim’s first win in regulation play since Feb. 11.
Ryan O’Reilly scored for St. Louis, which has lost three consecutive games overall and six in a row at home.
The Blues had won six straight and eight of their previous nine against the Ducks — including the first four meetings this season.
“Anyone can beat anyone in this league,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “Obviously they’ve gone through a bad stretch and were able to beat us tonight. I think it’d be more alarming if we didn’t put in at least a solid effort tonight. And I think we did as a team.”
Anaheim scored twice in the second period to take the lead.
Steel scored the first goal at 2:23 when the puck caromed in off his skate. Jakob Silfverberg threw the puck in from the corner. Steel was in front of the net. The puck hit his skate and the fortuitous deflection got past Jordan Binnington. It was the eighth consecutive game the Blues allowed the first goal.
“It hit my skate,” Steel said. “It was in a dirty area and I had my body in there. Things happen.”
Anaheim made it 2-0 when Max Jones scored at 19:07 of the period. Torey Krug turned the puck over in the corner to Ryan Getzlaf.
Krug acknowledged his play led to the goal.
“Yeah, that’s a tough play by me. I’ve got to make that, especially for our team,” Krug said. “We were rolling there. So I’ll take ownership on that. Just got to be better.”
Getzlaf got the puck to Jones, who skated in, made a nifty move and tucked it around Binnington.
Blues coach Craig Berube was not happy with that goal by the Ducks.
“It’s an unnecessary goal, all around,” Berube said. “It’s just a lack of urgency at a critical moment in the game. That’s a mental mistake for me, that goal at the end of the period.”
The game was Binnington’s first back-to-back set of games this season, losing both games. Binnington, who had 20 saves, fell to 10-10-4 overall and 4-2 against Ducks. Binnington played in back-to-backs once last season, losing and then winning.
St. Louis had 17 shots on goal in the second period but did not dent Gibson. During one TV timeout, Gibson skated to the bench and told everyone to relax.
“Gibson is a great leader,” Jones said. “He came to the bench during a time out and told the boys to take a breath. To relax. Then we got out there and scored. He made some big saves and he expects us to put it in the net. “
O’Reilly scored at 10:50 of the third on a delayed hooking penalty, cutting the Anaheim lead to 2-1. The 6-on-5 goal snapped a scoreless streak of 144:08 for the Blues.
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The St. Louis Blues are honoring the life of the late Bobby Plager with a jersey patch that features his retired No. 5 surrounded by a blue heart. The patch will be worn for every game through the end of the season. Plager was an original Blue and played 616 games with St. Louis, posting 20 goals and 121 assists.
Known for his famous hip check, Plager, after retiring as a player, served the Blues for more than 50 years in various capacities, including head coach, scout and community ambassador. Plager passed away Wednesday at age 78.
Anaheim’s D Jamie Drysdale sustained an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return to the game. … Blues D Colton Parayko (back) skated again Friday. He has missed 18 games dating back to Feb. 15. Parayko, who has played 16 games this season with one goal and seven assists, now is listed day by day. … Ducks F Sonny Milano (upper body) remains day-to-day. He has missed 12 games.
COVID TESTS FALSE
Four Anaheim players — Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and backup goalie Anthony Stolarz — returned to the lineup. They were on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list for what was later determined to be a false positive.
The Ducks have acquired right wing Alexander Volkov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Antoine Morand and a conditional seventh-round selection in 2023. Volkov, 23, won a Stanley Cup championship with Tampa Bay in 2020. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward played in 19 games with the Lightning this season.
The seating capacity in the Enterprise Center was increased to 4,100 fans Friday.
The Ducks will remain in St. Louis and play the Blues on Sunday.