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Blue Jackets Finish Season at Home Versus Anaheim

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Anaheim Ducks eliminated one team from the Pacific Division race despite losing their last game. They hope to oust the other and clinch a division title Saturday when they play the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Ducks (47-20-14) will finish no better than second in the Western Conference following their 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday. Anaheim - which has 108 points - leads the Pacific Division by two points over San Jose, but the point gained in the shootout loss ended Dallas' chances of laying claim to the division.

The shootout loss, however, also ended Anaheim's chances of catching Detroit for the top overall seed in the West. The Ducks will win the Pacific with either a victory or a non-regulation loss, but a defeat in regulation coupled with a victory by the Sharks would give San Jose the division crown.

"It was tough losing in the manner that we did," Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer said. "But we have to keep pushing on. We've got to keep playing hard and when the playoffs roll around, be ready to be at our best no matter who we're playing."

Teemu Selanne scored the lone goal in regulation for the Ducks, but joined Andy McDonald, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as players turned aside by Stars goaltender Marty Turco as Anaheim absorbed its second straight shootout loss.

"I guess we're going to have to do it the hard way," Selanne said about claiming the Pacific.

Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is still not with the team, having stayed back to be with his wife Kristen and newborn son Maxime Olivier, who has a non life-threatening medical condition.

Backup Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed three goals in seven attempts in the shootout losses, spoiling solid efforts in which he has stopped 60 of 63 shots in regulation and overtime.

Regardless the outcome of this game, the Ducks already have set franchise records for wins and points ahead of their fifth playoff appearance.

Columbus (33-41-7) will miss the playoffs for the sixth time in as many seasons since entering the NHL in 2000, but could set a franchise record for points with a victory in this game. The Blue Jackets, who had 74 points en route to a third-place finish in the Central Division last season, snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Rick Nash scored the game-winner 64 seconds into the extra period, fending off Stars defenseman Mattias Norstrom before letting a shot go from the slot.

"Lucky enough at the end we just kind of outchanced them and had the extra goal," Nash said.

Blue Jackets rookie goaltender Fredrik Norrena made 20 saves for the victory, continuing his recent strong play. The 32-year-old Finland native has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his last nine starts, compiling a 5-4-0 record, 1.99 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in that span.

"He was sound again," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's done more than hold the fort for us so we're pretty proud of him."

One of Norrena's four recent losses came 5-2 at home to the Ducks on March 29, when he squandered a one-goal lead early in the third period by yielding two goals less than 4 minutes apart. Norrena is 2-1 with a 3.61 GAA in three starts versus Anaheim this season.

The Blue Jackets are 12-9-1 with one tie all-time versus the Ducks, and have won four of the last six games between the teams.


-- Associated Press

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