ANAHEIM, Calif. — All it took was three shifts with his new linemates in his third NHL game for Nikita Nesterenko of the Anaheim Ducks to realize one of those long-held ambitions, the dream of every young hockey player.
Scoring a goal in the NHL.
One of those new linemates, rookie center Mason McTavish delivered a pinpoint pass from between the circles to Nesterenko, who was stationed at the right side of the net, shooting it between St. Louis defenseman Torey Krug’s legs and into the wide open net.
That was a brief bright moment in what was a largely desultory night for the Ducks, who gave up goals early and often in a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at Honda Center. Not only did the Ducks suffer their fourth straight loss but they played the third period without their second-leading scorer Troy Terry.
They were up 2-1 in the first period before allowing five consecutive goals to the Blues, who rallied to take a 3-2 lead by the end of the first and added two more goals in the second and another in the third.
Forwards Brayden Schenn, Kasperi Kapanen and defenseman Colton Parayko each had three points for the Blues. Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 30 saves.
The other Ducks goals were scored by Terry on the power play, his 21st of the season, at 1:46 of the first and Ryan Strome, his14th of the season, at 5:39 of the third period.
Nesterenko’s goal, at 4:05 of the first, put the Ducks in front 2-1. He made a point of immediately shifting the focus to McTavish and Terry, who had the secondary assist, when he spoke about his first goal in the NHL with Bally Sports West in the first intermission.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins had seen enough from Nesterenko in his first two games to put him with Terry and McTavish on Saturday.
“Nikita’s driving a little offense quietly. I don’t want to throw him totally into the deep end of the pool,” Eakins said on Saturday morning. “I just want to kind of edge him along. We’ll see how this goes for him. Going with these guys, he’s going to see a little bit more action on the back end from St. Louis because of Troy.
“He’s skating really well. He’s looking to make plays. He’s not being shy and he’s not deferring. ‘Oh, where is (Jakob) Silfverberg, I’ve got to get him the puck. He’s a veteran guy.’ I just thought through a very small sample size he has earned it.”