Thursday, October 29, 2015

Parayko fluke goal lifts Blues past Ducks 2-1

Rookie defenseman leads all NHL d-men in goals, 
sends struggling Anaheim home 0-4-1 off five-game trip

ST. LOUIS -- Right now, it doesn't matter in what fashion things are happening for rookie Colton Parayko.

Like the old saying goes: anything he touches, turns to gold.

And even when Parayko missed the net with that big, booming shot of his, good fortune happens, like it did in the third period Thursday at Scottrade Center against the Anaheim Ducks.

Parayko's fluky goal midway through the third period helped the Blues defeat the struggling Ducks 2-1. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jori Lehtera (12) and Vladimir Tarasenko celebrate Tarasenko's goal near
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen in a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

Parayko, who leads NHL defensemen with four goals, got the puck at the blue line after the Blues' Scott Gomez won a faceoff, Ty Rattie got the puck back to the Blues' defenseman and he fired a shot that missed the net. But the puck came off the end boards, caromed off the left skate of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and slid into the net with 9:29 remaining, breaking a 1-1 tie.

Parayko left the game with 6:30 remaining in the third period with an undisclosed injury. He appeared to skip on the ice awkwardly after coming together with Anaheim's Chris Wagner along the center ice boards. Coach Ken Hitchcock said he thinks Parayko will be fine.

Hitchcock spoke recently about wanting Parayko being more accurate with his heavy shot. He quipped after being asked if he thought it was OK with that one being wide.

"Yeah," Hitchcock said laughing. "He's around big points right now, which is a good sign for us right now. He's getting a lot of big points, timely points, timely goals, timely assists, whatever. He's having a big impact with us right now."

Andersen said it's the type of play that's going against the Ducks right now.

"Unfortunately, it came right back and hit the skate," Andersen said. "I thought we played great. That’s how I play it, but this time, it ended up costing us the game. 

"Its tough. I was surprised it came out that fast. We deserved a win for sure."

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored and Jake Allen made 22 saves for the Blues (7-2-1), who have two wins and an overtime loss on their five-game homestand. 

The Ducks (1-7-2) got a power-play goal from Hampus Lindholm and have scored 10 times in their 10 games this season. They ended their five-game trip 0-4-1 and remain winless on the road this season (0-5-1). 

Andersen made 32 saves and is 0-5-2 on the season, but Anaheim, despite being right there at the end in the past three games, just can't seem to get over the hump.

"We can sit there and say it was a bad goal, but [Andersen] did make four great saves after that and it was 2-1 so he kept us in the game," Boudreau said. "We need a break and we're not getting them right now, we're playing good enough to win. We didn't have the chances in the third period; 5-on-5 we were competing really hard and that’s all I can ask for." 

The Blues got a bit of a scare when Tarasenko was hit by Anaheim's Shawn Horcoff with four minutes to play in the second period. He left the ice favoring his left leg and did not return for the remainder of the period but came back for the third and got a rousing ovation from the 16,904 in attendance.

"Good. Good. I feel good," Tarasenko said. "It was really loud. Thanks for fans here."

Not long after, Steve Ott fought Ducks superstar Corey Perry to get his teammates fired up, and it seemed to spur his teammates.

"To be honest I didn’t really see what happened until afterwards," Ott said of the Tarasenko hit. "It’s a revved up game. They have a hard, hard hockey team over there that plays physical as well. We knew it would be a physical contest and I think we matched well. We got a huge two points for our club."

Tarasenko was appreciative.

It's always nice having a teammate like Steve, a guy who can step up for you, who can actually help you play defense and can create some offense," Tarasenko said. "These are the kind of guys who can make team spirit on the team. Glad to play with him.

"I didn't think about (the hit). ... It's not my job to tell something about referees. Let them do their job."

Lindholm gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead by scoring Anaheim's third power-play goal of the season. He took a feed from Corey Perry to the left of Allen, who stopped the first couple of attempts, but Lindholm continued to whack at the puck before slipping it past Allen on the short side 2:33 into the second period. 

It was the Ducks' second goal in the second period this season. They've been outscored 13-2. 

The Blues tied it on Tarasenko's team-leading sixth goal. He converted a 2-on-0 play with Jori Lehtera after the Ducks had a terrific chance to go up 2-0. Cam Fowler's pass through the crease went of the skates of Perry and Carl Hagelin onto the stick of Ott. His pass sprung Tarasenko and Lehtera, and Tarasenko beat Andersen at 6:18 of the second period.

"We have a couple 2-on-0's in our hockey career together," Tarasenko said. "It's fun to play with him. ... It was my first 2-on-0 goal in my NHL career. It was pretty fun.

"That's how coaches teach us in Russia; if you go 2-on-0, make a pass at the blue line and let the guy do whatever."

Ott quipped that he thought he would get a minus on the play and not a point.

"I thought I was going to get a really easy minus to be honest with you," Ott joked. "They had a little bit of a mishap and (they) turned (it) over and all of a sudden you see two superstars on the other end and they are playing give and go and what a heck of a goal.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Steve Ott levels Anaheim's Chris Wagner with a check during
Thursday's 2-1 victory against the Ducks. A scrum ensued after the hit.

"You never see, usually, those two guys up there like that with that much ice. To be honest with you, just the way the play broke up, you can almost guarantee those guys are going to score."

Despite being without some key players in Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle), Paul Stastny (broken foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder surgery), the Blues are finding ways to accumulate points. They need all the points they can get in a competitive Central Division.

"This is a really tight group in here guys," Ott said. "You can never replace guys like 'Shatty' and 'Stas' and 'Schwartzy' and even (Scottie Upshall) for that fact too. With all these guys, you can’t. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the lineup, we’re all pushing each other, we’re a really tight-knit group, our goaltending is playing great and when you do so you’re getting a recipe to win. The practices have been tough. We’re grinding each other, trying to make each other better at the same time to kind of push forward and when we get those bodies back it’s only going to help us and right now we’re picking up some valuable points."

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