ANAHEIM - The Ducks didn't lose a lot of ground in the Western Conference playoff race during four days without a game, and a key win tonight put them right back in position.
The well-rested Ducks overcame the late scratch of their captain in downing the visiting Blue Jackets, 4-2 at Honda Center, a fifth win in the last seven games for Anaheim.
The Ducks announced right before the warmup that Ryan Getzlaf would miss tonight's game with the flu, but they did get goalie John Gibson back after he missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Gibson responded with 36 saves, in earning his 23rd win of the season.
A second period penalty by Josh Manson actually turned up in Anaheim's favor, as they scored a shorthander by Andrew Cogliano, and Manson cashed in soon after the power play ended to give the Ducks a lead they never surrendered.
"It was good," Cogliano said. "We've had a good rhythm lately. That's been a big part of our game. Whenever you can score a shorthanded goal and get one after, usually you can win the game. That was the difference tonight."
The win kept the Ducks in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kings for third in the Pacific.
"We're in a tight race. To make the playoffs, you need to get going," Cogliano said. "It was a good resilient win by our team in terms of missing our best player. That says a lot about the guys here, says a lot about the guys that have come in and the new guys we brought in."
The Ducks hadn't played all week since a valiant comeback was spoiled with a shootout loss to Edmonton on Sunday night. Columbus, meanwhile, gave up five unanswered in losing 5-2 in LA last night.
But it was the Jackets who struck first tonight, going on top with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first when they couldn't clear the puck out of the top of the crease and Columbus winger Sonny Milano made them pay.
Rickard Rakell got the Ducks even by staying red hot, sweeping in a backhand off a rebound just outside the blue paint. Rakell had two goals in a span of 15 seconds to miraculously send Anaheim's game to overtime, last Sunday vs. Edmonton. This one gave him 26 goals and a career high 52 points on the season.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Rakell roofs quick backhander on Bobrovsky
The Ducks took their first lead by turning the tables on a Blue Jackets power play, as Cogliano swiped the puck at the Columbus blue line and buried a wrister on the breakaway. It was the 18th career shorthanded goal for Cogliano and his 15th with Anaheim, one short of the club record owned by Paul Kariya.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Cogliano steals, goes five-hole for SHG
Seconds after that same power play ended, the Ducks lit the lamp again, as Manson escaped the penalty box and tracked down a cleared puck all alone, slipping it past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with the backhand.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Manson slips backhand five-hole on breakaway
"When you win the special teams battle, you usually have a very good chance of winning the game," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Though we didn't deliver on the power play, our penalty killing kept them off the board. That was a big turning point, momentum wise, when we get a shorty. Manson follows up with another one. Two goals made the difference and turned everything in our favor."
The Ducks held the lead the rest of the way, slamming the door when Cam Fowler fired a puck through traffic from the high slot for his eighth of the year.
"If you ask any team, it's nice when you have four days off," Gibson said, " but it's also tough, especially when teams are playing and we have a few days to sit back. Sometimes you might come out slow, but we had a good start and played pretty well."
Anaheim's homestand rolls on with a Sunday matinee matchup with the Blackhawks at 1 p.m. at Honda Center.