BLUE JACKETS (10-6-0) at DUCKS (10-8-3)
TV: FS-O (HD), PRIME (HD)
Columbus 7-3-0; Anaheim 6-2-2
Second of four meetings this season. Rick Nash
scored twice and Steve Mason
made 31 saves as the Blue Jackets topped the Ducks 3-1 on home ice on Oct. 20. Derek MacKenzie
opened the scoring for Columbus, while Teemu Selanne had Anaheim's lone goal.
This is a battle between teams that missed the playoffs a season ago but are off to promising starts. The Blue Jackets started a three-game California road trip on Wednesday by dealing the Kings their first home loss this season. The Ducks started November with a six-game winning streak, although they're coming off an 0-1-2 road trip.
As he was in the first Columbus meeting with Anaheim this season, Nash came through with a couple of goals against Los Angeles in a 5-3 win. He registered the go-ahead tally with 3:12 remaining and made sure the Blue Jackets left the Staples Center with two points by adding an empty-netter. Jared Boll
also scored in the third period, tying the score just 2:23 after Justin Williams had given the Kings a 3-2 lead.
"It's a huge win, especially when you're going after the toughest team at home in the League," Nash said. "We keep it simple on the road. At home, sometimes we play too loose, try to do too much. On the road, we play uptight, and we do things the right way."
Close only gets you so far, but at least Anaheim can take some solace in the fact their three-straight losses have all been by a single goal, and they got single points out of overtime defeats against Chicago and Minnesota. Now the Ducks are back home for three in a row and seven of their next eight, where they hope their offense will perk up after managing just four goals on the winless road trip.
"Our goaltenders have been keeping us in games," rookie defenseman Cam Fowler
told the Orange County Register. "It's a shame we haven't been able to reward them with a win. It's tough to keep losing games this late in overtime."
Nash is heating up after a slow start, with 5 goals and 3 assists during a six-game points streak for the Blue Jackets. R.J. Umberger
has points in three straight, totaling 1 goal and 3 assists. … Corey Perry
has 3 goals and 3 assists during a four-game points streak for the Ducks. Jonas Hiller
has a .935 save percentage over his last four starts, posting a 2-1-1 record.
MacKenzie (groin) and defenseman Anton Stralman (illness) are day-to-day for Columbus, while forwards Ethan Moreau (hand) and Kristian Huselius
(high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve. … Anaheim has defenseman Andy Sutton (hand) and forwards Joffrey Lupul (back), Jason Jaffray (knee), Dan Sexton
(nasal surgery), Matt Beleskey
(concussion) and Kyle Chipchura (concussion) on injured reserve.
Boll has goals in two of the last three games for the Blue Jackets after going 18 games without scoring one. … Lubomir Visnovsky
of the Ducks has 16 points, tying him for fourth among defensemen.
Despite being four games over .500 Columbus currently sits outside the top eight in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to competitive balance and being one of half a dozen teams to have played only 16 games -- the fewest in the NHL and five less than Anaheim, which along with Chicago has played the most.