ANAHEIM – Some of the Columbus Blue Jackets were unaware of the out-of-town scoreboard that rims the lower bowl of Honda Center. Others took notice that the door to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was ajar.
Wherever their eyes gazed, Columbus stuck its foot in the door with an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Fedor Tyutin redirected Nick Foligno's shot-pass with 2:41 left in overtime as Columbus jumped into eighth in the Western Conference standings.
"It's no secret to anybody we're fighting for our playoff lives," Tyutin said. "If you look at the standings, you can't afford to lose any points. That's why everybody sensed that."
Tyutin didn't know that the Detroit Red Wings lost. Columbus had already gotten into the top eight of by getting to overtime but Tyutin's play gave them the extra point and extended its winning streak to five games. The Blue Jackets are 16-4-3 since March 1.
"We are extremely committed," R.J. Umberger said. "That's all we talk about. We want to make the playoffs and we want to win the Stanley Cup. That's our goal from day one and this is a committed group."
Anaheim looks more and more like a team that has already clinched a postseason berth and doesn't have much motivation in the home stretch. Players denied that is it difficult elevating themselves emotionally and mentally.
"No, this is just a big a game for them as it was for us," Andrew Cogliano said. "I think if we won tonight, we would have had a really good opportunity to clinch the [Pacific] Division. Right now, we're trying to find our game and be at the top of our game for playoffs. You don't want to go into the playoffs and not be playing your best hockey. These games are as big anything to us right now."
Columbus erased a 2-1 deficit in the third on Matt Calvert's goal at 9:23. The overtime winner capped an extremely tight, well-goaltended game in which goals came from unlikely sources because Viktor Fasth was exceptional and Sergei Bobrovsky matched him.
Columbus got two scoring chances early, but Fasth got his paddle on Marian Gaborik's shot from the slot and stopped Ryan Johansen on a shorthanded breakaway attempt. He also gloved Jack Johnson's shot on a power play late in the period.
Foligno worked the puck on the left side and threw it to a streaking Tyutin, who just glanced the puck to make it slip by Fasth for what Tyutin said was his first overtime goal.
"It was a tip right in front of me," Fasth said. "I didn't really see the guy. It came from the middle. But I think I should have that one."
Anaheim got just the odd bounce it needed to get out of its scoring slump on a weird play that put the Ducks ahead, 2-1, at 4:53 of the third. David Steckel's shot from five feet out hit a skate, bounced straight up in the air, landed in the crease and rolled into the net before Bobrovsky and nearby Vinny Prospal realized what happened.
Steckel's first goal of the season and first since March 23,2012, could have tipped the game toward the Ducks after Columbus hemmed in Anaheim for good portions of the second period and forged a 1-1 tie on Blake Comeau's redirect of James Wisniewski's shot that went in off the left post at 16:28.
"That second period was probably our best period of the game," Wisniewski said. "We were in their zone for quite a portion of the time. We kind of hemmed them in. We got one goal, but we didn't get the second one. When that goal in the third period went in I don't think anybody hung their heads. I think we were OK."
Comeau, a trade deadline pickup from the Calgary Flames, has goals in two straight games after he was scratched in back-to-back contests.
With Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa injured, the Ducks inserted offensive-minded Sami Vatanen and the Finnish defenseman came through on the power play with his first NHL goal on a terrific snap shot for a 1-0 lead 11:37 into the game.
Ryan Getzlaf sent the puck to Vatanen on the left side off a faceoff win six seconds into Comeau's holding penalty, and Vatanen zipped it far side as Corey Perry screened Bobrovsky. Bobby Ryan retrieved the puck.
It got Anaheim out of a 1-for-17 power play outage.
But Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has watched his team's scoring depth dry up. Anaheim has scored six goals in its past four games and 28 in past 14 games. It is 5-7-2 in that span.
"I'm concerned," Boudreau said. "I mean, when you want to win all the time, it's a concern … you can't use fatigue anymore as an excuse. It's the same for everybody and these guys – it was their fourth game in six nights. What are you going to do?"
Asked if there was any correlation to his team having the No.2 spot in the West all but solidified, Boudreau said, "I hope so. Deep down, I hope that's the case. If we're playing as good as we can possibly play right now, then we haven't picked it up as much as other teams have picked it up down the stretch."
Nikita Nikitin played three shifts in the third period. Columbus coach Todd Richards said Nikitin has a lower-body injury and will likely be re-assessed Thursday.
|PPG - Sami Vatanen (1) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (31), Corey Perry (19)|
1 - 0 ANA
|Blake Comeau (6) ASST: James Wisniewski (9)|
1 - 1 Tie
|David Steckel (1) ASST: Kyle Palmieri (9), Sheldon Souray (10)|
2 - 1 ANA
|Matt Calvert (9) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (14), Dalton Prout (4)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Fedor Tyutin (4) ASST: Nick Foligno (13), Marian Gaborik (14)|
3 - 2 CBJ
|Fedor Tyutin Interference against Emerson Etem|
|Blake Comeau Holding against Matt Beleskey|
|Corey Perry Boarding against Fedor Tyutin|
|Jared Boll Roughing against Sheldon Souray|
|Sheldon Souray Roughing against Jared Boll|
|David Steckel Roughing against James Wisniewski|
|James Wisniewski Roughing against David Steckel|
|Corey Perry Hooking against Jack Johnson|
|Jack Johnson Interference against Kyle Palmieri|
|Kyle Palmieri Too many men/ice - bench|