Ducks fall behind early in loss to Blues


ANAHEIM –– The Ducks faced St. Louis on the latter half of a back-to-back set Sunday, but the Blues went from acoustic to electric in a 3-1 win at Honda Center, less than 24 hours after they’d been unplugged by the Kings in a 5-1 loss.

Mason McTavish scored the Ducks’ solitary goal. John Gibson had another lightly supported outing as the Ducks have now scored two or fewer goals in each of his six losses this season, and one or fewer in five of them.

Jake Neighbours, Pavel Buchnevich and Alexey Toropchenko each had a goal for the visitors. Joel Hofer earned his fourth win in six appearances.

At the 8:19 mark of the first period the Ducks had yet another dustup with the video review gods and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen’s excruciating search for his first career goal persisted in the face of yet another near miss.

His goal from close range appeared to give him his first NHL tally, but for the third time in his career, he was robbed of the credit and, in this case, the goal itself. Officials determined the Ducks entered the zone offside, nullifying the goal. The Ducks’ game-winner in Nashville on Tuesday had been credited to Vaakanainen initially but later attributed to Adam Henrique. With Boston earlier in his career, he appeared to score his first goal but about an hour after the game the NHL determined it was actually Curtis Lazar’s goal after it grazed the forward’s pants en route to the net.

The Ducks had already twice been embroiled in video review controversies this season. On Thursday they had a tying goal disallowed after a lengthy look from both officials at the arena and at the NHL offices in Toronto, provoking disbelief from the feathered faithful on hand and the Ducks’ bench. In Pittsburgh last month, a disallowed goal sent Coach Greg Cronin into something of a conniption, earning him an ejection and a subsequent fine.

The Blues summarily scored the game’s first goal, 66 seconds after the Ducks’ disappointment. Veteran winger Alex Killorn flicked a centering pass from the wall to the center of his defensive zone with disastrous results. His dish was gobbled up by Oskar Sundqvist, who found Neighbours for his second goal in two periods after he broke up the Kings’ shutout in the third period with the Blues’ sole goal Saturday.

St. Louis extended its lead to two goals with 3:26 left in the first period with a power-play marker by Buchnevich. The Ducks lost him during a puck battle, but Jordan Kyrou found him with a seam pass from the left dot to the right post for a tap-in tally.

At the 5:39 mark of the second stanza, Toropchenko cashed in as a result of a chaotic sequence that included a failed centering pass and two shot attempts that missed the net before his successful twirling bid from in tight.

The Ducks clawed back a goal when forecheck pressure, mostly from Max Jones, created a loose puck that Killorn tapped to McTavish for a forehand-to-backhand move and his eighth goal of 2023-24.

In the closing 20 minutes, the Ducks carried possession but generated little in the way of dangerous scoring chances. They were also plagued by penalties, surrendering one power-play goal but given St. Louis five opportunities and depriving their game of its rhythm.


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