By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Gallery
The drive for seven commences tonight as the Ducks host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center. Anaheim’s season-opening loss at Pittsburgh seems like a distant memory at this point, due in large part to the team responding by reeling off six consecutive victories. The six victories represent the NHL's longest winning streak since Colorado posted six straight from March 25-April 5, 2014.
The battery powering this impressive streak is Big Red, also known as Frederik Andersen. The 25-year-old netminder extended his winning streak to a career-tying six games (6-0-0) and continues to pace all NHL goaltenders in wins this season (6). In his most recent victory, a 4-1 triumph two nights ago vs. Buffalo, Andersen became the first goaltender in NHL history to win 26 of his first 31 decisions (26-5-0). During the winning streak, Andersen posted a career-high scoreless streak of 152 minutes and 46 seconds (spanning three games) from October 17-22. Andersen, who has made a career-high six consecutive appearances/starts, was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for October 13-19 after going 4-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.
If the Ducks are to reach seventh heaven, they’ll have to go through a talented and tireless Blue Jackets squad that went toe-to-toe with the San Jose Sharks last night at SAP Center. The Blue Jackets erased a two-goal deficit by scoring three goals within a five-minute span in the second period, and went on to win, 5-4. Young stud Ryan Johansen scored twice in the second period, and seemingly had his third in the final minute of the third period, but the goal was disallowed due to a crease violation. It didn’t matter, as Mark Letestu redirected a point shot with 20.7 seconds remaining to lift Columbus to a 5-4 stunner.
“He’s turned into quite a young player,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said of Johansen. “I think they did it right. He was in Springfield [American Hockey League] for a year. You can see the maturation of a young star. He’s got a tremendous release on his shot, he plays hard and he’s a big, strong centerman. Those guys are hard to find, as we all know.”
Boudreau says the Blue Jackets are deep throughout the lineup. “They’re four lines deep, they have good defense and a good goalie,” he said. “If you look at the history of us and Columbus, every game has been a one-goal game since I’ve been here. You know that they come in, they work their butt off, and they’re going to be a tough team.
“When you’ve won six in a row, every team wants to be the team that knocks you off. We’re not going to get their worse game. We’re going to get their best game.”
Adds forward Andrew Cogliano, “They’ve been very good the last couple of years. They’re a really hard team to play against. They play the right way. They have scoring by committee where a lot of guys are chipping in and playing hard.
“They’re one of the better teams in the East,” said Cogliano. “They’ve been like that for the last couple of years. It’s going to be a big test for us. It’ll show us where we’re at as a team.”
In his career against Columbus, Ryan Kesler has 22 points (8g/14a) in 28 games. He says the team that comes out on top tonight will be the one who outworks the other. “We have to come out, work hard and execute,” he said. “That’s what every game comes down to. Every team is so even nowadays. Our game plan for every game is to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0.”
WHO TO WATCH
He became the fastest player in franchise history to eight goals (in seven games) with his second hat trick of the season and seventh of his career in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Perry became just the sixth player in the past 29 years to record multiple hat tricks in his team’s first seven games of season. Perry now co-leads the NHL in goals, power-play goals (3) and points (8-2=10).
Getzlaf's 11-24=35 points in 30 career games lead all Ducks against the Blue Jackets. He leads the NHL in assists and also co-leads in scoring (2-8=10). Getzlaf has points in six of seven games this season, including two straight multi-assist games (0-4=4).
Kesler has 3-3=6 points in his first seven games as a Duck, and is one point shy of 400 career NHL points.
Johansen is tied for seventh in the NHL in points (5-4=9) and has recorded points in all six games this season. The six-game point streak is tied for second longest in his career (career best: nine games from Nov. 29-Dec. 16, 2013). Johansen scored twice in the second period of Columbus’ 5-4 victory at San Jose last night.
Foligno is also tied for seventh in the NHL in points (3-6=9) and has set a new career high with assists in all six games this season. He had a goal and an assist in last night’s win.