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Ducks edge Blues in battle of Western elites

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks, who own the NHL's best record, ended their pre-Olympic slump by pouncing on their most serious competition in the Western Conference.

Center Andrew Cogliano scored 3:39 into the game to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night in front of an announced standing-room-only crowd of 17,369 at the Honda Center.

Anaheim won just five games of the final 11 games before the Olympic break, following a 36-8-5 start.

"Nobody was really happy just before the Olympics," Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller said. "Everybody knew we wanted to find that consistency again, especially at home. Knowing that you can keep up physically with one of the most physical teams in the league definitely gives you some confidence."

The Ducks (42-14-5) gave coach Bruce Boudreau his 300th career victory in his 496th game, the fastest pace for any NHL coach with at least 300 wins. Montreal legend Toe Blake held the previous standard, with 300 victories in his first 525 games.

"After my 200th win, I got fired the next game," said Boudreau, who coached the Washington Capitals for five seasons before Anaheim hired him.

Hiller made 18 saves for his 26th win and his fifth shutout. Hiller had not won at home since Jan. 12 against Detroit.

"Everybody was blocking shots," Hiller said. "Everybody was playing really physical. We didn't give up a whole lot of chances in the slot."

Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler began the scoring sequence by breaking up a rush and passing the puck to center Saku Koivu along the left-wing boards. Koivu then passed to Cogliano, who beat three Blues and converted a backhander against goalie Brian Elliott.

Elliott made just his third start this month after St Louis (39-14-6) sent regular starter Jaroslav Halak to Buffalo in a five-player trade earlier Friday. The Blues acquired goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott.

"Ryan Miller is an all-world goalie and Steve Ott adds grit," Blues right wing Kevin Backes said. "But the guys in here can't think they're a magic solution and that, all of a sudden, things are going to get easy. Winning in this league is tough."

The Blues' two best chances to tie hit the goal frame. Left winger Jaden Schwartz's wrist shot ricocheted off the crossbar in the first period. Right winger Ryan Reaves tried to score on a spin move in the second period, but the puck deflected off the right post to the left post before sliding away from the net.

"It was a great effort by all of us to get past that," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of the trade. "We put in a great effort. We're creating the chances. We just need to put a couple in the net, and we'll be fine."

NOTES: Blues D Jay Bouwmeester played his 700th consecutive game Friday night. Bouwmeester had not missed a game since March 3, 2004, when he played for the Florida Panthers. ... Ducks locker room attendant Jeff Tyni dressed as the Blues' backup goalie. Tyni, who wore number 60, plays in local amateur leagues. ... St. Louis D Carlo Colaiacovo played back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. ... Anaheim C Nick Bonino and D Mark Fistric returned to action for the first time in a month after sustaining lower-body injuries. ... Ducks C Andrew Cogliano played his 519th successive game. ... Ducks RW Corey Perry entered the game leading the NHL in game-winning goals (9). ... Anaheim D Hampus Lindholm began the game with the best plus-minus rating of all NHL rookies at plus-26.
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