Monday, October 11, 2010

Blues dominate Ducks in 5-1 victory

Penalty-filled affair overshadows team record for fastest
two goals scored; D'Agostini nets first two goals as a Blue

ST. LOUIS -- What started out as a record-setting day for the Blues turned into one of those turn-back-the-clock days of the knock 'em out, drag 'em out Norris Division battles.

No, the Blues weren't facing Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit or Toronto of old, but they were facing a wounded Anaheim Ducks team on a Monday matinee at Scottrade Center. Chippy play was on the docket, to say the least.

The Blues scored twice within six seconds, setting a franchise record for fastest two goals, then the fun began early in the second period that lasted to game's end. The previous record was seven seconds on Jan. 24, 1968 against Minnesota by Don McKenney and Frank St. Marseille.

David Backes and Andy McDonald provided the margin of victory with those two goals six seconds apart, Matt D'Agostini potted his first two goals as a Blue, B.J. Crombeen added a shorthanded goal and the Blues withstood a frustrated Ducks squad in a 5-1 route before 19,150 fans.

The Blues (2-0-0) outshot the winless Ducks (0-3-0) 53-14 in the game, started with a flourish and ended with a bang.

One penalty was called through the first period, but when the Blues' Ryan Reaves -- recalled from Peoria Sunday in place of enforcer Cam Janssen -- and Anaheim's Kyle Chipchura tangled 3 minutes, 3 seconds into the second period, it started what would become a trend in the game.

The teams combined for 37 penalties and 143 penalty minutes that saw four fights, six misconduct penalties and several roughing infractions.

Instead of guys like Janssen and Brad Winchester throwing down the gloves for the Blues, and George Parros and Aaron Voros for the Ducks, it was Brad Boyes, Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer for the Blues. The Ducks had Bobby Ryan, Paul Mara, Brendan Mikkelson and Ryan Getzlaf tried to fight until Mara intervened.

"It's hockey. We've got guys that stick up for each other. If you've got to go, you've got to go," said Boyes, who tried to square off with Getzlaf until Mara stepped in. "That kind of surprised me, but Mara came flying in.

"If it was Parros, I could have been in big trouble."

Parros tried to goad Barret Jackman into a fight, but when the Blues defenseman refused and induced a two-minute minor, he did get something Parros to stick his tongue out at him.

"I didn't see that," Jackman said. "You've got to keep your head up. You can't be caught trying to be pretty. You've got to stay to your game and your team has to stick together like we did out there and talk and play tough."

When there was actual hockey played, the Blues struck fast and furious. Backes took a feed through the crease and beat Jonas Hiller with a one-timer 3:53 into the game, then McDonald, a former Duck, benefited from T.J. Oshie's tenacious pursuit of the puck off the ensuing face-off and scored 3:59 into the game for a 2-0 lead.

"They've had trouble scoring goals, so it was good for us to get off to a quick start, get on them quickly and put a couple goals in," said Boyes, who got the second assist on Backes' goal. "The quick start was something we wanted to do."

The teams traded goals, with Crombeen taking advantage of a turnover to make it 3-0 5:10 into the second and Saku Koivu getting the Ducks on the board following a turnover with a power play goal, but it was D'Agostini that really put the game away with a laser beam shot with 4:09 left in the second that chased Hiller from goal after a 4-1 Blues lead.

"The first one always feels the best, especially early in the season like that," said D'Agostini, who would score again with 2:42 left in the game. "You always want to get that first one and get it off your back. Then you can start playing.

"It was a big one for our team. It gave us more of a lead there. We were playing hard all night, so it was a good win for us."

The Ducks have now been outscored 13-2 in three games and outshot 145-72.

The telling fact of the Blues' 53-14 disparity: The Ducks' 10th shot in the game came with 10:14 left in the game. The Blues' 10th shot came with 8:01 to play in the first period.

For a while there, Alex Steen alone was outshooting the Ducks. After two periods, it was Steen 9, Ducks 8.

"There were a couple (shots) that I thought were destined," Steen joked. "Couldn't get them in today. It was tough."

Needless to say, sometimes a team needs to send a message -- albeit the wrong message -- to try and spark something from the club. Anaheim tried to go about things the wrong way.

All the Blues needed to do was stay the course.

"Stay focused, continue to play, play at full engagement levels," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "The second you start to feel that there's a moment that you can let off the pedal, then you get yourself on the wrong side of things. It was full engagement from start to finish. We've been on the other end of that. We know the business. That's the pride of a hockey player, pride of a hockey team. Nothing out of the ordinary."

Added Boyes, "They're battling hard. They're sending messages. They're trying to do their thing to get their team going. It's just the way it is."

Brewer held his own with the tough Voros, and Johnson scrapped with Mikkelson. Yeah, it was that kind of game.

"It just happens," Brewer said of his tussle. "It's just one of those things, one of those plays. A lot of that stuff isn't planned or anything. It materializes, you deal with it and carry on.

"You're just reacting to the game. It was getting a bit chippy out there. I think we all know what happens. ... I thought we handled it really well."

The Blues, who got 13 saves on a light day at the office from Jaroslav Halak, will next embark on a three-game trip that will take them through Nashville, Dallas and Chicago. There just seems to be a different feel to this 2-0 start as opposed to last season, and the Blues will attempt to sustain it on the road.

"The way we won the two games this year compared to the way we won them last year," Steen said. "The two games in Sweden, I thought we played alright, but I thought we were fortunate to win those two games. I thought Detroit played better than us and we ended up getting the wins. But now, we've outplayed our opponent in two games.

"We've got a good buzz. Good pace, good energy to our game. That's the key for us; moving our feet, keeping that pace high during the course of a game."

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