ST. LOUIS – The Anaheim Ducks had three defenders back on the overtime goal that ended their five-game road winning streak. One too many, as it turned out.
Lee Stempniak beat the odds when he broke in alone against the trio, scoring an unassisted goal with 2:21 left in the extra period to give the Blues a 3-2 victory Friday night. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn’t have a good look at Stempniak’s shot to the short side, not with six-foot-six, 214-pound defenceman Chris Pronger in the way.
“I think Pronger was coming off the bench and caught a little bit flat-footed,” Stempniak said. “So I just tried to use him as a screen. It was a great win.”
Giguere complimented Stempniak for turning the Ducks’ numbers against them. The winner, a shot from the left circle, deflected off the goalie’s stick.
“I think he used Prongs in a very effective way,” Giguere said. “You know, I would still like to see that shot again. But you can’t go back.”
The Ducks’ appeared to have momentum after Scott Niedermayer capitalized on a wild scramble at the end of regulation, scoring his third goal of the season with only 0.9 seconds remaining. The puck slid between Manny Legace’s pads after the Ducks’ Corey Perry, perhaps pushed by a Blues’ player, fell over backward over the goalie.
“I was just fishing for the puck,” Niedermayer said. “It just happened to come to my stick.”
Steve Regier and David Backes scored power-play goals for the Blues, 2-for-5 with the man advantage. St. Louis is only 2-5-2 in its last nine games and entered the game tied for last in the NHL.
The Blues outshot the Ducks 3-1 in the extra period, shaking off what could have been a devastating goal. Stempniak has scored all three of his goals in the last six games, totalling 10 points during that stretch.
“It’s tough,” Stempniak said. “Probably not as tough as you would think, though. I think we took the play to them in overtime.”
Chris Kunitz also scored for the Ducks, who fell two wins shy of the franchise record for consecutive road victories. The Ducks have lost five of six.
“We feel we’re a better team than we’ve shown in a number of games this year,” Niedermayer said. “It’s frustrating when you don’t play to your potential.”
Before Kunitz’s goal in the third period, the Ducks had gone one hour 34 minutes 35 seconds without scoring against the Blues.
Regier has three career goals, all in two games this week while yo-yoing back and forth from Peoria of the AHL on emergency recall with Paul Kariya sidelined by a hip flexor injury. Regier scored twice against the Canadiens in a shootout loss Sunday.
Backes added an assist on Regier’s goal, driving to the net against Giguere and leaving Regier with an easy tap-in at 10:15 of the third.
Backes had to beat only defenceman Steve Montador in the first period. Giguere was out of position after Steve Winchester’s shot hit the post and Backes had time to collect the rebound on his backhand and switch to the forehand on a power play at 7:14.
Both teams were feisty from the opening faceoff. Blues rookie Brandon Crombeen, the son of former St. Louis player Mike Crombeen, squared off against Samuel Pahlsson just three seconds into the game in the first of three first-period fights.
“I think Anaheim is a very physical team,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “To have success against them, you have to make sure you answer the physicality, and we did that.”
Notes: The Blues wore their new third jersey, a dark blue model with vintage drawstring, after former stars modeled jerseys from the franchise’s past in a pre-game ceremony. … Ducks D Bret Hedican became the 14th U.S.-born player to reach 1,000 games. … Kariya missed his sixth game with a hip flexor injury and is also not expected to play Saturday at Minnesota.