October 19, 2014

A visit to the Anaheim Ducks isn't the ideal situation for the St. Louis Blues as they try to avoid their longest losing streak in nearly two years.

That's because St. Louis heads into Friday night's matchup with nine straight defeats in Anaheim and two wins in its last 22 there.

The Blues (23-14-6) are also coming off back-to-back games in which they blew big leads, both part of a four-game slide that's their longest since dropping the final six games of the 2013-14 season.

St. Louis allowed three unanswered goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa on Monday before opening a three-game trip Wednesday against Colorado, again wasting a two-goal lead and giving up three straight scores in a 4-3 defeat in overtime.

"You've got a one-goal or two-goal lead on the road, that's time to batten down the hatches," center David Backes told the team's official website.

The Blues have outshot opponents 150-127 during the four-game skid, which started with them scoring once in each of the first two.

"There was a lot of good play again, but it's not being rewarded with goals," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're not closing off games. We're going through that phase where we've got to show more composure and close off games."

St. Louis was able to finish off a 2-1 win Oct. 29 in the first meeting with the Ducks (16-16-7) as rookie defenseman Colton Parayko put the team ahead with 9:29 left in the third period.

However, it's been a different story in Anaheim. The Blues have been outscored 33-17 in dropping nine straight visits in regulation and are 2-18-1 with one tie there since the beginning of the 2002-03 season.

The Ducks fell 4-0 to visiting Toronto on Wednesday and lost All-Star goaltender John Gibson early in the third with a lower-body injury following a collision.

Gibson, 8-5-2 with a 1.76 goals-against average while playing in 16 of 18 games since being recalled from San Diego of the AHL on Nov. 24, practiced Thursday.

Still, the Ducks went out and acquired a goaltender, sending left wing Max Friberg to Montreal for Dustin Tokarski on Thursday. Tokarski, 10-12-5 with a 2.85 GAA in 33 career appearances with Tampa Bay and the Canadiens, played in six games this season.

Goaltending, though, hasn't been the problem for Anaheim. It was shut out a league-high eighth time Wednesday and is last in the NHL with 1.85 goals per game after averaging 2.78 last season, when it lost in seven games to Chicago in the Western Conference finals.

The Ducks were on a 4-0-1 surge in which they allowed four goals before the Maple Leafs matched that total.

"We stopped playing the way we normally do, or have done in the last little bit," forward Corey Perry said. "It's all about sticking with the process and game plan. It works, but when you get away from it, it doesn't."

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored in the first meeting for the Blues and has two goals and two assists in his last three games. Tarasenko, named an All-Star on Wednesday, is among the league leaders with 24 goals and 43 points.

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