Ducks goalie Ray Emery, right, makes a save as St. Louis right wing B.J. Crombeen… (Associated Press )
Teemu Selanne, who said he has never seen such tense jostling for a playoff spot, reduced the Ducks' hopes to one thing.
"Consistency," Selanne said. "We have to play the same way every shift."
That didn't happen Wednesday, but he'll take it.
The Ducks turned to someone borrowed, someone old to beat the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, at Honda Center.
Ray Emery, whose career the Ducks salvaged in February, made his first start in 13 months and stopped 30 of 31 shots. Jason Blake, a spry 37, knocked in two goals, one on his pass that went off a Blues defenseman and the other he knocked from the sky like manna to break a 1-1 tie two minutes into the third period.
NHL playoff standings
The victory put the Ducks in eighth place in the Western Conference as they head off to play six of their next eight games on the road, with seven of the games against teams clamoring for a playoff spot.
"It's unbelievable," Selanne said. "A month ago, we had a stretch where we played 18 games and won 14 and we were barely in the playoffs. Usually if you win 14 out of 18, you are 10 points above the playoff line."
For the moment the Ducks will settle for having their heads above water.
"Right now, we're in," Blake said. "The tough part is staying in."
The Ducks will likely try to stay there without goaltender Jonas Hiller, who has missed the last 13 games with vertigo. The Ducks are 6-6-1 in that stretch.
Hiller is fourth in the NHL with a .925 goals-against average, and filling that breach hasn't been easy.
Curtis McElhinney bombed in four starts and Dan Ellis has been adequate ever since.
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The Ducks turned to Emery, who had not started a game since Feb. 1, 2010, when he beat Calgary, 3-0, as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent hip surgery last spring.
The Ducks signed him for $500,000 in February, and his only other NHL appearance was 17 minutes in relief of Ellis in a 5-2 loss against Phoenix on Sunday. That chance to get "a taste for it helped," Emery said.
Emery got to ease into Wednesday's game. The Blues didn't have a shot on goal for 51/2 minutes. He didn't face another shot for seven more minutes. By the end of the game, Emery had seen plenty, but allowed only a power-play goal.
"They kind of buzz around the net and take whacks at the puck," Emery said. "I had some butterflies going in, but I have been there before. I'm a veteran."
So is Blake, who looked anything but his age. He burst on net and tried to slip a pass to Saku Koivu, only to have the puck go off a Blues player and into the net to tie the score 11 minutes into the second period.
"Sometimes you are fortunate," Blake said.
He didn't need luck on his second goal. Blake slid into the slot and deflected Lubomir Visnovsky's high shot into the net to give the Ducks the lead, and a playoff position.