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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Ducks

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

ANAHEIM -- It would seem like a no-brainer for the Anaheim Ducks to keep riding the hot streak of goalie Frederik Andersen, who has won a career-high tying six straight starts. But the Ducks also have to be mindful of not letting goalie John Gibson sit for too long.

The Ducks appear to be addressing the latter because Gibson was first off the ice Friday before Anaheim played the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center. Gibson has not played since a season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in his hometown on Oct. 9.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, speaking generally, said it's important to keep Gibson sharp.

"You don't want a 21-year-old kid just sitting on the bench all night and not feeling part of it," Boudreau said of Gibson. "Very few teams can go through and just say, 'Hey we've got one goalie. Let's ride the one goalie.' We need both guys playing. We know how good [Gibson] was for us when he played for us last year. He's had one subpar game. Other than that, he works hard in practice. He's had a couple of good games down in the minors to get ready for his next start. We have no fear of using him."

It would make sense for Anaheim to come back with Andersen on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, a Pacific Division opponent and therefore a more important two points in the standings. Gibson asked for and received a two-game stint in the American Hockey League during Andersen's streak.

Andersen's next start will be his attempt at a career-high seven straight wins. He is the first goaltender in NHL history to win 26 of his first 31 decisions.

How tough is to balance the playing time?

"It's been difficult, but Freddie's been so good," Boudreau said. "But we know that Gibby's a really good player too. We talk it over every day and we figure out when the best time for him to go in is, and when it is, we'll know he’ll come up big. We'll probably get into a little better rotation once Gibby starts his next game."

The Ducks can match their great start from last season at 7-1-0. The Blue Jackets, who held an optional skate after a comeback win at San Jose on Saturday night, have won three of the past four games against Anaheim.

This is seen as the first game of a tough stretch for the Ducks, whose next six opponents played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

"This is kind of the start of a big couple of weeks for us," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "You never like to look ahead in the schedule, but you see the road trip that we have coming up and the teams that we're up against, so we'd like to get off to a good start with our last couple of games at home, and it starts tonight against a good quality team. We need to make sure that we match their intensity."

Here are the expected lineups:

BLUE JACKETS

Scott HartnellRyan JohansenNick Foligno

Matt CalvertAlexander WennbergCam Atkinson

Mark Letestu - Artem AnisimovJack Skille

Adam CracknellMichael ChaputJared Boll

Jack JohnsonDavid Savard

Tim ErixonJames Wisniewski

Fedor TyutinCody Goloubef

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anton Forsberg

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Dalton Prout

Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal), Ryan Murray (knee), Boone Jenner (hand), Nathan Horton (back), Curtis McElhinney (head/neck), Marko Dano (lower body)

DUCKS

Devante Smith-PellyRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Matt BeleskeyWilliam KarlssonRickard Rakell

Emerson EtemNate ThompsonTim Jackman

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Hampus LindholmFrancois Beauchemin

Clayton StonerSami Vatanen

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Mark Fistric, Chris Wagner

Injured: Bryan Allen (lower body), Dany Heatley (groin), Kyle Palmieri (ankle), Patrick Maroon (knee)

Status report: Stoner will likely go back in after Fistric made his season debut Wednesday. Fistric stayed out with the extras. Getzlaf, Kesler and Beauchemin did not skate, but the lines are expected to be the same. Boudreau said Heatley probably wouldn't be ready by Sunday. … It is not known whether Bobrovsky will start for the second straight night. Forsberg has no NHL experience.

Who's hot: Getzlaf has points in six of seven games. Smith-Pelly has points in three of his past four games. … Foligno and Johansen have points in six straight games. Hartnell is coming off a career-high four assist game.

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