ֱ

Jake Neighbours and Pavel Buchnevich score in 1st period, helping Blues past Ducks 3-1

Share

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jake Neighbours and Pavel Buchnevich scored in the first period and the St. Louis Blues snapped a two-game California losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.

Joel Hofer made 30 saves as the Blues won on the second night of a back-to-back after falling 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. St. Louis had given up a combined 10 goals in consecutive games at San Jose and Los Angeles.

Alexey Toropchenko also scored for the Blues, who improved to 1-2 during a stretch in which they will play six of seven games on the road.

“I think a start always is a priority for us,” Neighbours said when asked if the opening period was a priority on the tail end of a back-to-back. “The first 10 minutes we want to be effective, and north and direct. And I thought we were that tonight.”

Mason McTavish scored and John Gibson made 28 saves as Anaheim dropped its third straight game, matching an early season high. The Ducks are 0-2 in the openers of a four-game homestand and have lost five of seven following a six-game winning streak.

The Blues took a 1-0 lead at 9:25 of the first period when Oskar Sundqvist stole a pass in the Ducks’ zone and quickly fed Neighbours for his fourth of the season.

“As I’ve talked about repeatedly, the turnovers are one of the things that sabotages our momentum in games,” Ducks head coach Greg Cronin said. “Obviously, the first goal is directly off a turnover.”

Buchnevich made it 2-0 on the power play at 16:34 of the opening period when he jammed home a pass from Jordan Kyrou, his sixth of the season.

St. Louis was 3 for 46 on the power play, an NHL-low 6.5%, before Buchnevich scored with the man advantage.

“We’re not a team that’s going to win hockey games if we’re not outworking the opponent,” Neighbours said. “We’re at our best when we’re skating, forechecking, backchecking, applying pressure and I thought we were all over them.”

The Blues opened a three-goal lead at 5:39 of the second period when Toropchenko sent a spinning shot past Gibson for his third of the season.

“It was a great start to work as a team together from the first minutes of the game and get rewarded with the win,” Toropchenko said.

“We’re talking every day about it, that we need to work hard right from the start and a full 60 minutes with no rest, (all) work. When you are on the ice you need to give 100 percent of what you’re doing.”

The Ducks got on the board at 8:47 of the second when McTavish pulled in a loose puck in front of Hofer and flipped a shot into the top of the Blues’ goal, his eighth.

“We’ve come back so many times that we don’t really see a one- or two-goal deficit as a big thing,” Cronin said. “But I don’t know how many times it has been in a row now that we’ve not scored the first goal and that does get old.”

Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen twice has celebrated his first career goal over the past week, only to have the milestone moment taken away.

Vaakanainen appeared to score the opening goal in the first period Sunday when he flipped the puck into the air and redirected it past Hofer. But, the play was ruled offside after a replay review.

The 24-year-old from Finland was playing his 82nd game over parts of six seasons.

UP NEXT

Blues: Visit the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.

Ducks: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

___

AP NHL: /hub/nhl