The St. Louis Blues are trending in the right direction, and doing it at the right time.
They can move to the brink of a guaranteed playoff spot with another win against the visiting Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
The Blues (24-19-7, 55 points) occupy fourth place in the West Division, holding a five-point cushion over the fifth-place Arizona Coyotes. St. Louis has six games remaining and Arizona has three.
The Los Angeles Kings are nine points back of St. Louis with six games left, meaning the Blues would need to beat the Ducks, and the Coyotes would also need to beat the visiting Kings on Wednesday, for the Blues to officially clinch fourth place.
it didn't seem like the Blues would recover their season after they lost 12 of 14 games from March 6 to April 5, knocking them out of fourth place. But they've regrouped and, most recently, won five of their past six.
"It hasn't been an easy year, a lot of ups and downs, battling through injuries and adversity all year, but we're getting closer," said Brayden Schenn, who scored his 14th goal of the season Monday. "A couple more left to go. We need a couple wins to get in, and that's what we're focused on."
As the Ducks (16-30-7, 39 points) count down the final three games of their disappointing season, Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins is hoping his younger players can at least take some mental notes from the Blues.
"They saw the grit and the grind of a line like (Ryan) O'Reilly and some of the other players on St. Louis," Eakins said. "What it's going to take to win 2-1, 3-1 each and every night of the year."
St. Louis coach Craig Berube has also been impressed with the line of Robert Thomas, Mike Hoffman and Jordan Kyrou.
Thomas and Kyrou assisted on the game-winning goal on Monday, setting up defenseman Robert Bortuzzo for his first goal of the season.
"I think they feel comfortable playing with each other and with Hoffman out there," Berube said. "I think that's a big thing, and they have confidence to make plays and jump the holes. They feed off each other well."
Throw in Bortuzzo's first goal in 34 games this season, and the Blues have plenty of reasons to be excited.
"He's been playing great, and it's good to see him get rewarded," St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington said. "Being aggressive, getting up in the play, and he's always got a strong (celebration), too."
The Ducks continue to get thinner with their defense corps, which should make things even more challenging against St. Louis.
They were already without two of their top four defensemen, Josh Manson (upper-body injury) and Hampus Lindholm (fractured wrist), but then played without talented rookie Jamie Drysdale (lower-body injury) on Monday. Cam Fowler left early in the third period after a hard collision.
"The guys that we have in there are giving their best, but we need a guy that has the skating ability, and the offensive game that Cam has," Eakins said. "When you're playing against a playoff team in a tight game, the experience as well, so when he went out, that was a very large hole to fill."
--Field Level Media