Parayko’s fluky game-winning goal with 9:29 remaining lifted the Blues to a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
“He’s getting a lot of big points, timely points, timely goals, timely assists, whatever,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s having a big impact with us right now.”
The Blues (7-2-1, 15 points) won for the sixth time in their last eight games (6-1-1) thanks to goals from Parayko and Vladimir Tarasenko and another strong effort from Jake Allen, who followed up his shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday by stopping 22 shots of 23 shots against the feisty Ducks.
St. Louis improved to 2-0-1 since forward Jaden Schwartz joined the besieged Blues’ list of walking wounded with a fractured right ankle suffered during a drill in practice.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in the lineup, we’re all pushing each other, we’re a really tight-knit group, our goaltending is playing great and when you do so you’re getting a recipe to win,” Blues forward Steve Ott said. “The practices have been tough. We’re grinding each other, trying to make each other better at the same time to kind of push forward and when we get those bodies back it’s only going to help us and right now we’re picking up some valuable points.”
The Blues had to overcome a group of Ducks (1-7-2, 4 points) that entered the night last in the NHL in scoring, averaging just one goal per game, but hungry to close out the final game of a five-game road trip with a much-needed victory.
Anaheim took an early lead on a power-play goal from Hampus Lindholm and another strong effort from goalie Frederik Andersen, who finished with 31 saves, but it wasn’t enough.
“We do need a break and we’re not getting them right now and that’s what usually happens when a dark cloud is over you,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.
After Lindholm scored on a rebound of a Cory Perry shot gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead at 2:33 of the second period, the Blues answered less than 3 minutes later when Tarasenko scored his sixth of the year.
The Ducks had an odd-man rush but a pass hit a skate and went to Ott, who delivered a stretch pass to the other end where Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera were waiting on a two-on-none breakaway.
“They had a little bit of a mishap and turned over and all of a sudden you see two superstars on the other end and they are playing give and go and what a heck of a goal,” Ott said.
The Blues survived an injury scare late in the period when Tarasenko then left the game after taking a hit from Shawn Horcoff. The Blues’ leading scorer went to the locker room but then returned for the third.
Parayko tallied the go-ahead goal with 9:29 remaining in the third.
“Unfortunately it came right back and hit my skate as I’m trying to seal that post,” Andersen said. “I thought we played great again, pretty much the whole game. Especially the first two periods.”
Parayko’s fourth goal of the season, which leads all NHL defensemen, proved to be the game-winner after the Blues held off a late charge.
“Huge two points,” Tarasenko said.
The Blues are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Central Division rival Minnesota Wild (6-2-1, 13 points) at Scottrade Center.