Grant’s Hat Trick Leads Ducks Past Blues

The Ducks defend their net as St. Louis scrambled for a way to score against them Saturday night in Enterprise Center. (Joe Puetz/NHL via Getty Images)

CONDENSED REPORT

St. Louis, Mo.Derek Grant put three goals in the net to lead the Ducks past the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-1 Saturday night. The loss is St. Louis’ third straight after having won 7 in a row before. Two of those three losses at least garnered points with a loss in a shootout to Arizona on Tuesday, and then an overtime loss in Columbus on Friday.

This one didn’t need overtime, however, as the Ducks got on the board early, and the Blues couldn’t solve Ducks goaltender, John Gibson.

“We’ve got to score goals. It’s clear we didn’t score enough goals, with a lot of shots,” coach Craig Berube told the media after the game. “We had quite a few good chances. I thought we did a better job tonight of getting to the net. Their goalie played well. We just didn’t score.”

And that was the story. One goal doesn’t win many hockey games.

Jordan Binnington was not to blame as the early goals came in a perfectly executed two-on-one rush, and then a mishandled puck with a lousy bounce ended up in front of the net with no chance for Binnington to stop it. The Ducks led 2-0 early.

Vince Dunn scored early in the second to close the gap to one goal, but Grant answered a few minutes later to stretch the lead back to 3-1. An empty-netter by him sealed the deal late in the third.

Klim Kostin made his NHL debut tonight and did not look out of place. More about him in the recap below.

FIRST PERIOD

The Blues looked like they had good energy in the early moments of this game and mounted some good offensive pressure. It culminated in a David Perron wrister that hit the post, and that was as close as the Blues got to scoring a goal in the opening frame.

Anaheim got out on a two-on-one rush that developed late in the offensive zone, and some beautiful passing by Ryan Getzlaf and Max Jones left Jordan Binnington vulnerable. Getzlaf put it in the net for the early lead at the 4:00 minute mark for his 8th goal of the season.

Binnington nearly stopped the shot with the paddle of his stick, but he was lunging and didn’t have enough resistance to keep the shot from going in.

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The second goal from Anaheim came after Binnington handled a puck behind the net and shoved it over to Alex Pietrangelo. Petro tried to move the puck to Ivan Barbashev, but it went off a Ducks skate and caromed out in front of a wide-open net as Binnington was trying to get back into position. Grant was in the right spot at the right time and scored an easy goal to make it 2-0.

SECOND PERIOD

Vince Dunn showed off his offensive skill set 3:14 into the second. We will let the video speak for itself.

As the Blues tried to climb back into the game, they kept running into the same obstacle, John Gibson. The 26-year old Pittsburgh, PA native stopped 37 or 38 shots on his way to his 7th win of the season. He was the difference in this one and earned the game’s 2nd star.

Grant, the game’s first star, became the benefactor of a sloppy play by Justin Faulk three minutes after Dunn had scored for the Blues. Grant intercepted Faulk’s drop-pass on the power play at the blue line, and he walked in on Binnington. He slid the puck between the legs on an excellent move for a short-handed goal and a 3-1 lead.

The Blues’ Oskar Sundqvist tried to do something about the goaltender midway through the second. The Swedish winger is always flying around the ice, and this time he was trying to squeeze between Gibson and the end boards as Gibson tried to play the puck. Sunny tried to jump past him, but there was no room. The two collided, and Oskar was guilty of charging.

The Blues penalty kill was solid, killing off both Anaheim’s chances in the game. But, so was the penalty kill for the Ducks. St. Louis had four power-plays in the game and could not capitalize.

THIRD PERIOD

Two of the Blues power plays were in the final period, giving them a chance to get back in the game. They couldn’t find a way to score. Grant added an empty-netter for the hat trick. He had only scored two goals all season before tonight’s game.

St. Louis falls to 12-4-5, but still leads the Western Conference, tied in points with Edmonton but having played one fewer game. Colorado inched a little closer to the Blues in the Central with a win over Vancouver and now sits just 3 points back of the Blues.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It seemed to me like the Blues got away from their grinding game of forechecking, puck possession, and wearing down their opponents this week. I made notes that there was a lot of up-and-down action as the Blues appeared to fall into a game that is not their strong suit. I believe that Berube will stress the need to get back to that style as they face three teams next week that will want to play a fast-paced game.

Tampa Bay, Calgary, and Nashville all come to Enterprise next week. The Blues need to get back on track and find their game.

KLIM KOSTIN

Kostin finally got his chance to don the note and play for the team that drafted him oh so long ago. I say that with tongue in cheek. He is only 20 years old. The Penza, Russia native was drafted 31st overall by the Blues in 2017 and has been the one player that Blues fans have most wanted to see on the ice in the NHL. He skated on the 3rd line with Tyler Bozak and Robert Thomas and wore #37.

The 6’3″, 212 lb. Kostin managed to make four hits in the game and got two shots on goal. He made a hard charge towards the net with the puck on one occasion and looked like he held his own for the most part. His 11:45 minutes of ice time was only slightly less than his linemates, who both got some additional ice time on the power play and/or penalty kill.

Will he remain up with the Blues or go back to San Antonio? That remains to be seen. There has been no word on a decision with Troy Brouwer or Jamie McGinn, who both had PTO’s with the Blues last week. St. Louis could sign one or both of them for insurance while Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are out, or they could give Kostin some more games and see what he does. Time will tell.

 

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