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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 18th (All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (36-9-5) at St. Louis Blues (32-9-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After losing for only the second time in 20 games on Friday, the Anaheim Ducks will try to get back in the win column when they visit the St. Louis Blues for Saturday's clash at Scottrade Center.
Anaheim was aiming to become the second team in NHL history to win 19 times in a 20-game span Friday evening in Chicago, but the Ducks fell behind early and were never able to catch the Blackhawks in a 4-2 loss at United Center.
The loss -- Anaheim's first since Dec. 29 in San Jose -- halted an eight-game winning streak for the Pacific Division leaders and it came two days after the Ducks routed Vancouver by a 9-1 score.
Marian Hossa scored a pair of goals, including a key empty-net score in the final eight seconds, to help the Blackhawks cool off the Ducks. Hossa also scored short-handed midway through the opening period and Kris Versteeg followed with a goal in the first to stake Chicago to a 2-0 lead at the end of 20 minutes.
Bryan Bickell made it a 3-0 game with 9:47 left in the third, but Ryan Getzlaf scored with 6:13 remaining for the Ducks and Kyle Palmieri made it a one-goal game just 53 seconds later.
Anaheim went with an extra skater twice over the final minute-plus of regulation, but were unable to get the equalizer before Hossa put the crucial insurance goal into the empty cage.
"We didn't come ready to play, to meet them," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "And maybe with all the press we've gotten in the last days some guys just weren't ready for this."
Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller lost for the first time since Dec. 3, ending his club-record win streak at 14 games and remaining tied with Tom Barrasso for the second-most consecutive wins in one season by a goaltender.
Backup goaltender Frederik Andersen could give Hiller a breather on Saturday with the Ducks playing on back-to-back days.
The Ducks won the first of three scheduled meetings against the Blues on Dec. 7, taking the contest at Scottrade Center by a 5-2 score. Andrew Cogliano scored twice for Anaheim, which has won four of five in the series overall and two of three in St. Louis.
The Blues have lost two of their last three games, but they hope to get a boost Saturday with the return of leading goal-scorer Alexander Steen. The Swedish winger was activated from injured reserve on Friday and is ready to go after missing the last 11 games with a concussion.
"I think we're going to play him as much as he can handle," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after Friday's practice. "Hopefully he can get up to speed right away and play the minutes that he did before and contribute the way he did before because he was a huge impact player for us."
Despite having not played since Dec. 21, Steen is still leading the Blues with 24 goals, which ties his career-best for tallies in a season. David Backes is second on St. Louis with 17 goals.
St. Louis could certainly use the offensive help considering the club has scored a total of four goals over its last three outings. The Blues last were in action on Thursday when they dropped a 4-1 home decision against the Los Angeles Kings, who received 28 saves from goaltender Jonathan Quick.
T.J. Oshie provided the sole offense for the Blues, who suffered their first home defeat since a 4-2 setback to San Jose on Dec. 17. St. Louis had won five straight as the host before Thursday's setback and is still 18-4-2 as the home club this season.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 shots, but was his own worst enemy on a key score in the final period. It was a 3-1 game at 4:21 of the third, just 10 seconds after Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter was whistled for hooking, when Halak collected a dump-in behind his net, but failed to see Trevor Lewis in pursuit. Lewis picked up the disc, circled the net and tucked it inside the left post.
"I think I made a mistake at the worst possible time with the game on the line for us. Will take blame for this one. We lost two points because of me," said Halak.
Brian Elliott, who is 13-2-2 with a .925 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average this season, will get the start Saturday. He is 1-2-2 with a 3.45 GAA in six career games against the Ducks.
The Blues are capping a three-game homestand tonight and will begin a four- game road trip Monday in Detroit.
01/18 10:59:50 ET
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