Sanford, Bozak return to power Blues past Ducks 5-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Zach Sanford and Tyler Bozak scored goals in their first games back from injured reserve, and the St. Louis Blues headed into the All-Star break with a 5-1 victory over the stumbling Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Oskar Sundqvist and Sammy Blais also scored for the Blues, who had lost three of four before splitting two games on a Southern California road trip.
In both teams' final game before the All-Star break and their subsequent bye weeks, rookie Jordan Binnington bounced back from his first career regulation loss with 12 saves in his fifth career victory heading into the Blues' nine-day break.
Daniel Sprong scored the game's opening goal, but the injury-plagued Ducks were then buried in their 14th loss in 16 games.
All-Star John Gibson stopped 26 shots before former Blues goalie Chad Johnson replaced him with 9:25 to play, sending fans to the exits early on Anaheim's only home game between Jan. 11 and Feb. 13. The remaining Honda Center fans halfheartedly booed the team off the ice after it managed just 13 shots on goal.
Sanford had his 10th goal of the season and an assist after missing the Blues' previous three games with an upper-body injury. Bozak, who got credit for a third-period goal that ricocheted off Nick Ritchie's skate, also came off injured reserve and returned to the St. Louis lineup after missing nine games with a concussion.
Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly played in his 700th career game and had an assist to extend his scoring streak to six games.
St. Louis outshot Anaheim 8-0 in the opening 6 ½ minutes before Sprong took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf and found the top corner for his eighth goal since joining the Ducks last month.
After Tarasenko tied it with his 17th goal and Sanford scored early in the second, Sundqvist put the Blues up 3-1 when he shoved past Andy Welinski for a one-timer in the slot off a pass from former Ducks forward Patrick Maroon, who has scored a point in eight consecutive games against Anaheim.
The Ducks added another major loss to their injury-plagued season Wednesday when Czech forward Ondrej Kase was ruled out for the season with a torn labrum. Kase also missed the first 18 games of the season with a concussion before scoring 20 points in 30 games.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto made his Ducks debut after the club acquired him in a trade with Vancouver a week ago.
NOTES: AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani dropped the puck in the ceremonial opening faceoff on Angels Night. ... Ducks F Jakob Silfverberg missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury. The team hopes Silfverberg will return to practice after the break along with F Corey Perry, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, and G Ryan Miller, who has been out since Dec. 9 with a sprained knee ligament. ... Ducks C Ryan Kesler missed his fourth straight game due to the latest problem with his troublesome hip. He is not skating, and the Ducks don't know when he will return. ... F Patrick Eaves will play two games with the Ducks' AHL affiliate in San Diego before he is re-evaluated. He hasn't played for Anaheim since Nov. 9 after breaking his ribs. ... Former Ducks F David Perron missed his third straight game for St. Louis with an upper-body injury. ... Blues D Robert Bortuzzo was a healthy scratch. He had played in 25 consecutive games. Joel Edmundson took his spot in the lineup.
Blues: At Blue Jackets on Feb. 2 to open a three-game trip.
Ducks: At Jets on Feb. 2 to open a five-game trip.