ANAHEIM, Calif. – Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau turned to his assistant Brad Lauer at one point and asked him what they would do if the unthinkable happened.
After Jonas Hiller left the game with a lower-body injury late in the first period, Iiro Tarkki was forced to make his NHL debut. So what would have happened if Tarkki got hurt?
"Pete Peeters," Boudreau joked in reference to Anaheim's goaltending coach. "We were picking straws. It wasn't going to be me."
Boudreau could joke about the situation after Tarkki held up a 7-4 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Honda Center in a wild Sunday night game that featured a little bit of everything between the two worst clubs in the NHL.
Hiller is day-to-day, Boudreau said. Columbus, however, came out of it much worse as Jeff Carter suffered a separated shoulder, coach Scott Arniel said, from a third period hit delivered by Francois Beauchemin.
Hiller's injury came just hours after the Ducks announced that backup Dan Ellis will miss four weeks with a strained groin. Tarkki, who arrived in Anaheim from the East Coast about 11 a.m. Sunday morning, allowed three goals on nine shots, but Anaheim got a hat trick from Corey Perry and two goals by Teemu Selanne to put together its first two-game winning streak since Oct.19-27.
Tarkki allowed a goal on his first shot faced – a slap shot by Derek Brassard – but ultimately got his first NHL win.
"Of course I was a little bit nervous when I heard that I am going in," said Tarkki. "Actually I felt pretty good going in in the second period. It feels pretty weird. We had a game yesterday in Wilkes-Barre and we left after the game, just our track suits on and now we're here. It's pretty amazing."
The Ducks didn't ignore that a loss would have dropped them to 30th in the standings.
"We realize if we're going to lose tonight, we're going to be rock bottom," said Selanne, who recorded his 650th and 651st career goals. "So we didn't want to do that. We want to start climbing up and, like I said, try to find some hot streak and go from there. I still believe we have all the pieces here and obviously the last couple of games there are a lot of bright things."
Hiller was in line for his 100th career victory when he sprawled to make a save and came out of the game after he stopped seven of eight shots in 18:57.
"When Hiller made that save, he looked a little awkward there," Boudreau said. "He said he'd just wait until the end of the period and I wasn't going to take the chance. It's tough to put Tarkki in that situation. Sometimes you get overwhelmed. All being said, I'm glad he got the game over with."
Anaheim otherwise exploded with a season-high seven goals.
Perry scored an empty-net goal to complete his fourth career hat trick and Anaheim's top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan recorded a six-point night and has a combined 11 points in the past two games.
Columbus, which was going for consecutive wins for the first time since Nov.19-21 and back-to-back road wins for the first time since March 12-19, 2011, lost Carter as the game got ugly late.
Beauchemin received a 10-minute game misconduct. With fewer than five minutes remaining and the Ducks ahead, 6-4, Jean-Francois Jacques inexplicably elbowed R.J. Umberger and was given a five minute elbowing major.
"One's a blindside and the other he's leaving his feet," Arniel said. "In our opinion, both of those were illegal hits. I'm sure the League will be taking a look at those."
Umberger called the hit "very dirty." Told that Jacques has been suspended before, Umberger said, "He'll get another one."
Columbus had goalie issues of its own as Steve Mason was pulled after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. Mason got the start although Curtis Sanford stopped 68 of 70 shots the previous two games, including a shutout against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Mason looked shaky when he left a big rebound for Andrew Cogliano, who scored to start a four-goal first period. Mason was beaten far side on a soft shot by Perry for a 2-0 lead.
"Without a doubt, he has to help us there," Arniel said of Mason.
Arniel was displeased with a poor start and undisciplined game in which the Blue Jackets gave Anaheim five power plays.
"We weren't prepared from the start," said Rick Nash, who scored two goals. "We came out flat and they put on the pressure early. That was the difference."
The Blue Jackets got two goals in their first eight shots on Tarkki, but rallied short.
Samuel Pahlsson, who entered the weekend with 12 penalty minutes on the season, had six in two games. His slashing infraction gave the Ducks a two-man advantage in which Perry buried Koivu's cross-ice feed to make it 5-2.
Selanne's second goal was a tap-in to finish a nice drag move by Niklas Hagman to get the puck to Selanne at his usual right side station.