Ducks, Blue Jackets try to push upward in standings
DUCKS (11-13-7) at BLUE JACKETS (14-11-6)
Last 10: Anaheim 4-2-4; Columbus 2-5-3
Season series: Third of four meetings this season. The Blue Jackets have won the first two. Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek each scored a pair of goals and Fedor Tyutin had the game-winner with 3:22 left in a 6-4 win in Anaheim on Oct. 24. Nash scored again in regulation and added the shootout winner as Columbus won 3-2 on home ice on Nov. 13.
Big story: A pair of playoff teams from last season have their work cut out if they want to find themselves in the top eight of the Western Conference when this spring arrives. Columbus has given up the most goals in the West and fallen into a tie for 10th, three points off the current postseason pace. Anaheim is still fighting to get out of last place, though it is only eight points out of eighth.
Ducks: An optimist would point to the fact Anaheim has at least one point in eight of its last 10 games. A pessimist would suggest the Ducks need to start making up ground two points at a time, not one, if they want to get back in the postseason hunt. Friday night was a missed opportunity, as they let a 2-0 lead after two periods in Detroit slip away before losing 3-2 on a Todd Bertuzzi power-play goal in overtime. The Red Wings scored twice on 10 power-play chances.
"You can't take that many penalties against anybody," Ducks winger Petteri Nokelainen told the Orange County Register. "We know what kind of power play they got. We can't win these games if we don't smarten up here."
This will be the third game in four nights for Columbus, which has not won consecutive games since mid-November. Steve Mason, who led the League with 10 shutouts last season en route to winning the Calder Trophy as top rookie, picked up his first of this season against Florida on Wednesday. Mathieu Garon got the start Thursday in Nashville, and the Jackets fell 4-3 in a shootout.
"I think our players are disappointed in the fact that they played well and didn't get the two points," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Nashville is probably a team that we're going to have to catch to get a playoff spot."
Anaheim center Saku Koivu
has a goal and an assist in each of his last two games and is plus-5 during that time. Rookie forward Dan Sexton
has three goals and an assist in his last two games.
Columbus defenseman Kris Russell has three goals in his last six after scoring four in his first 150 NHL games.
A leg injury sidelined Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul
on Friday. Also out and on injured reserve are forwards Teemu Selanne
(left hand surgery) and Ryan Carter
(broken right foot).
Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla is out for around a month due to a groin tear. Forward Fredrik Modin has not played this season after he underwent knee surgery.
The Jackets had to feel they had the Predators where they wanted them once Thursday's game went to the shootout, because Garon was 18-4 in his career in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. For a rare occurrence he didn't get the job done, allowing three goals on five attempts, including the winner by Steve Sullivan that got under his pad.
"I don't know if my pad was not flat on the ice, I'll have to check the replay," Garon said. "I thought I had him when I saw him make his move."
Life doesn't get easier any time soon for the Ducks, who are starting a four-game road trip with a back-to-back situation. Overall, they play seven of their next eight and 10 of 12 away from home.