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Anaheim Ducks 1, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 FINAL

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Columbus backup goaltender Fred Brathwaite finally had the game he wanted.

``I wish I could have been doing this earlier in the season and give ourselves a better chance to be in the playoffs,'' said Brathwaite, who made 43 saves in the Blue Jackets' 3-1 victory over Anaheim on Friday night.

``Fred had a great game,'' Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. ``He was huge for us.''

Rookie Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist. Zherdev, who has 12 points in his last eight games, scored his 11th of the season into an empty net with 52 seconds left.

David Vyborny added his career-high 21st goal, and Tyler Wright also scored to help the Blue Jackets to their third straight victory following a team-record eight losses in a row.

Petr Sykora scored his 23rd of the season for Anaheim, eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night. The Mighty Ducks are the fifth team in league history not to make the playoffs the season after playing in the Stanley Cup final.

``Give them credit, they found a way to win the game,'' Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said. ``I thought Freddy Brathwaite was real good.''

Brathwaite said it was a team effort.

``The way the defense played and the way our forwards played so well defensively, a lot of shots came from the outside,'' Brathwaite said. ``They let me see everything and when there were scrambles in front of the net they cleared the guys or they cleared the rebounds.''

Vyborny opened the scoring midway through the first period, beating Martin Gerber with a low shot. Andrew Cassels fed a backhand pass from the right corner to the wide-open Vyborny.

``Sometimes you get lucky shots, lots of times it's a matter of getting a lucky bounce,'' Vyborny said, deflecting praise for his goal and personal accomplishment.

In the second, Zherdev nearly converted a two-on-one with Trevor Letowski. Seconds later, Zherdev gathered the puck and zipped a pass to Wright, who beat Gerber with a high shot.

``The foundation of this team is in place,'' Wright said, referring to Zherdev and Rick Nash, who entered the game tied for the NHL lead with 39 goals. ``It's fun to watch these guys grow and play with them.''

Nash was stopped on a partial breakaway later in the period and then took a double minor at 13:33 for high-sticking Niclas Havelid.

On the second power play, Vaclav Prospal fired a shot from the point, and Sykora put the rebound over Brathwaite to make it 2-1. Columbus had killed 31 consecutive power plays in seven games.

``We sat back in the third and it got a little scary,'' Gallant said.

Zherdev scored soon after a goal by Columbus defenseman Luke Richardson was disallowed because of a goalie interference call on Wright.

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