“It was pretty awesome to score my first goal for this organization,” said Skoula, playing his 13th game for Anaheim since coming over in a trade from Colorado on Feb. 21. “I’m happy that I’m getting more responsibility and more ice time. I’m getting more comfortable with the team, and it will pay off next year.”
Ryan Johnson ended a 26-game goal drought for the Blues, who took sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference. Reinhard Divis, starting for only the third time in St. Louis’ last 21 games, made 28 saves before Skoula deprived him of his first NHL shutout.
“I was a little surprised that I got the game tonight, because Chris Osgood’s played super the whole time since Mike (Kitchen) has been the coach,” Divis said. “But it’s my job to play well when they give me the chance.”
Sergei Fedorov won a faceoff from Mike Sillinger deep in the St. Louis zone before Skoula got the puck from Joffrey Lupul and took a 50-foot slap shot through a screen that broke off Divis’ glove and dribbled across the goal line—costing the Blues a vital point.
“Obviously, playing the role of a spoiler is not what you want to be doing,” Lupul said. “But that’s basically what we have left here, so we’re going to play hard the last eight games. We had a meeting about this the other day. It’s a good opportunity for a lot of guys to show they want to be here next year.
“I thought St. Louis played very well for a team playing their fourth game in five nights,” Lupul said. “Guys like Pavol Demitra and Keith Tkachuk are really hard to handle—especially Tkachuk. He plays hard, he’s physical and he has a great shot.”
Divis stopped Skoula on a breakaway just before the final horn sounded. About 35 seconds earlier, Giguere stopped Tkachuk point-blank on a backhander at the edge of the crease after Tkachuk deftly stickhandled around Keith Carney and Lupul down the slot.
“I was in so tight, I had to make a shot and unfortunately, I was on my backhand,” Tkachuk said. “I still made a great shot—I thought—but Giguere’s an unbelievable goalie and he made a big save.
“We feel like we should have won that game, but we’ll take the point. We’ve played four games in five nights, and I like the energy we had tonight. We played better as the game went on, and we really dominated in the overtime.”
The Blues had only one shot on net in the first 11 minutes, however. But Johnson converted his own rebound at 13:49 of the second period for his first goal since Dec. 23, a game-winner at Columbus. Anaheim’s Niclas Havelid knocked down a floating puck at the Ducks’ blue line when defense partner Lance Ward collided with him, allowing Johnson to go in alone on Giguere.
The Ducks’ best scoring chance during the first two periods came midway in the second. Fedorov carried the puck into the St. Louis zone and sent Lupul in alone on Divis from the right wing. Lupul went flying over the goalie and the puck dribbled into the crease before defenseman Christian Jackman swept it away from the wide-open net.
“We were pretty solid all over and we stuck to the game plan for 65 minutes,” Havelid said. “It’s way more fun for us to play teams that arebattling for a playoff spot than teams that are not.”
^Notes: Anaheim LW Vaclav Prospal has scored a goal against every team except St. Louis during his eight-year career. He had played against the Blues 13 times and has two assists. … St. Louis D Chris Pronger returned after serving a one-game suspension from the NHL. … Ducks enforcer Garrett Burnett, who got his first NHL goal Tuesday night at Phoenix, was stopped on a breakaway early in the first period. … St. Louis rookie C Mike Danton returned to the lineup earlier than expected after missing eight games with an injured shoulder. … The Blues, who had six players with 20 or more goals last season, have just two this season—Tkachuk (30) and Demitra (21). … Sillinger is one of three players to play for 10 different NHL teams, along with J.J. Daigneault and Michel Petit. Both Sillinger and Daigneault have played for the Blues and the Ducks.
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