|One element that permeates tonight’s game between the Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks is familiarity – these two clubs faced off nine days ago at Honda Center, and Columbus came away with a 3-2 overtime victory in a game that was nothing short of spirited. |
There’s no love lost between the teams, and with the Ducks trying to make a push up the standings and creep into the playoff picture, this game will be no different than last night’s 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Anaheim needs this game (and most every game down the stretch, for that matter) to become a factor in the postseason chase and the Ducks are sure to come out motivated tonight at Nationwide Arena.
In their last meeting, the Ducks were outplayed in the third period and overtime by the Blue Jackets after building a 2-1 lead on Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal late in the middle frame. Jeff Carter tied the game early in the third with Columbus on the power play, one-touching a backhander behind Jonas Hiller off a nice feed from Antoine Vermette. Derick Brassard’ s rocket slap shot ended the game at 3:55 of overtime, finishing a play he started with a steal from Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler in the neutral zone.
But that game is in the past and the Blue Jackets are going to see a desperate team yet again – something that isn’t likely to change as the season winds down and teams have to leap frog others for playoff seeding. After a strong performance by Steve Mason last night at Xcel Energy Center in which he made 34 saves, interim head coach Todd Richards will have a decision to make as Curtis Sanford recovers from an upper-body injury: does he go back with Mason, even if Sanford is deemed fit to play?
On the other side of the ice, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is sure to go with Jonas Hiller. The Swiss netminder is 9-2-1 in his last 12 starts overall.
| || || |
|Nash (18) ||Perry (23) |
|Prospal (24) ||Selanne (32) |
|Nash (38) ||Selanne (50) |
|Dorsett (137) ||Perry (71) |
|MacKenzie (+4) ||Koivu (+10) |
|Sanford (10-13-4) |
|Hiller (18-19-9) |
|Sanford (2.52) ||Hiller (2.75) |
|Sanford (.915) ||Hiller (.907) || |
|• With last night’s victory in Minnesota, the Blue Jackets won back-to-back road games for the first time since Mar. 12-19, 2011. Beginning tonight vs. the Ducks, Columbus enters a stretch of six of its next eight home games at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are 3-1-0 in their last four games overall. |
• Tonight’s game is the fourth and final game this season between the Blue Jackets and Ducks. Columbus has won two of the first three meetings, including last week’s overtime victory in Southern California. The Blue Jackets also beat the Ducks 3-1 on Oct. 30 at Nationwide.
• Brassard has points in five of the last seven games after picking up an assist on Umberger’s goal last night. He has 2-5-7 in those games, while collecting 5-7-12 the last 16 games and 7-10-17 the last 23 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
• Nash has points in four-straight games after notching a pair of assists vs. the Wild. He has 1-4-5 during that stretch, while the multi-assist game was his first since Dec. 22 at Nashville, a span of 20 games. He has 5-6-11 the last 16 games and 14-12-26 the last 37 games.
D - #4
• Not many hockey pundits expected Fowler to fall to the Ducks at 12th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but he made amends for that slide with a tremendous rookie season last year. Fowler is one of Anaheim’s go-to players on the blue line and plays in all situations for the Ducks.
D Radek Martinek (concussion); out for the season
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely
C Mark Letestu (hand); indefinitely
D Nikita Nikitin (lower body); indefinitely
D Brett Lebda (hand); week-to-week
D Marc Methot (jaw); indefinitely
RW Jared Boll (foot); week-to-week