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Blue Jackets set to host Ducks

by Davis Harper

DUCKS (23-7-4) at BLUE JACKETS (14-14-7)


Last 10: Anaheim 5-4-1; Columbus 5-2-3

Season series: This is the second of three season meetings, and the only one at Nationwide Arena. On Feb. 18, the Anaheim Ducks held on for a 3-2 win, improving their record to 5-1-1 over the past seven meetings with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Big story: Sitting just outside postseason contention, Columbus will gun for a vital two points when it welcomes Anaheim on Sunday. The Blue Jackets sit just a point below the No. 8 St. Louis Blues, but are among a group of seven teams separated by five points. The Ducks, impressive for so long this season, had lost four straight games before defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Friday night.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Looking simply at the standings, it may appear as if Anaheim is the more secure side in this duel. But four straight losses -- two each to the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks -- did nothing for the Ducks’ confidence. A win Friday against the Western-leading Blackhawks, their third in three meetings this season, helps the Ducks in the standings. The way they got the win -- scoring first, losing the lead then regaining in the final minutes -- should help them in less tangible ways.

Corey Perry gave Anaheim the lead early in the second period -- the first time in four games the Ducks scored first -- but Patrick Kane equalized it early in the third. Anaheim didn’t panic, and the Ducks' composure paid off when defenseman Sheldon Souray scored with 2:08 to play.

"We wanted to have a good start. It was the focus of our night," Souray said. "It's been our Achilles' heel the last few games. First-period goals have hurt us more than last-period goals."

Blue Jackets: If Columbus wants to make its first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2008-09 and the second in franchise history, the Blue Jackets certainly aren’t making it easy on themselves. After an impressive start to March, they lost three straight games on their recent road trip to drop into the bottom half of the standings. The Blue Jackets did close the road trip with a 6-4 win over the Calgary Flames, tying a season-high for goals in their fourth away win of the season.

"What stands out is the two points, no matter how you get them," Vinny Prospal said. "Sure, maybe coaches or goalie coaches would love for the scoring to be a little lower, but for the offensive guys, it's great."

Who’s hot: Columbus, as long as it's playing at home. The Blue Jackets are 8-0-3 in their past 11 at Nationwide Arena. … Jonas Hiller made 25 saves against Chicago on Friday and is 4-0-1 over his past six starts against Columbus.

Injury report: Nick Bonino is day-to-day for Anaheim with a lower-body injury. … Jared Boll (undisclosed), Tim Erixon (upper body), Adrian Aucoin (undisclosed), Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) and Nick Foligno (undisclosed) are all day-to-day. Derek Dorsett will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.

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