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
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
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.