DUCKS (26-19-7) at BLUE JACKETS (21-28-6)
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COLUMBUS - Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno only needs to look across the ice Thursday to see how his counterpart with the Anaheim Ducks has been able to resurrect a season after a slow start.
The Ducks started their season 1-7-2 and captain Ryan Getzlaf struggled from the onset with no goals, one assist and was minus-5 in eight games. Then he had a non-emergency appendectomy and missed four games.
Both Getzlaf and the Ducks' seasons eventually turned around. Anaheim has won seven of eight to move into third place in the Pacific Division prior to playing the Blue Jackets on Thursday.
"Everybody knows he had a slow start," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We've been playing better as a team and he's been playing a lot better."
Getzlaf has 38 points (five goals, 33 assists) in 48 games. He has two goals and eight assists in the past eight games.
"At the start of the year coming out of training camp, I've said many times, it was a weird dynamic, weird feeling. It transferred onto the ice," Getzlaf said. "I had to find a way to get past it, play hockey the way I knew how, and get that confidence back in my stick."
The Ducks are 14-4-1 since late December, the third-best mark in the League by points percentage.
"If you look at our record since Christmas, you'd swear we were in first by a long shot," he said.
That situation is the opposite of Foligno and the Blue Jackets. They haven't recovered as well from a 0-8-0 start, although Columbus is 21-21-6 since John Tortorella became coach on Oct. 21.
Foligno, a 2015 NHL All-Star when he set career highs in goals (31), assists (42) and points (73), has seen his production drop dramatically in his first season wearing the 'C.' He has six goals and 26 points.
"It's been a tough year but that's no excuse," he said. "It's my job to find a way no matter whether it's on the scoreboard or on the ice to make a difference in the game."
He was finding his groove with a goal and four assists in four games before a concussion from a hit by Carolina Hurricanes forward Brad Malone on Jan. 8 sidelined him for four games.
Since returning, Foligno has an assist in seven games. He was on the fourth line and had two shots in 11:23 of ice time Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
"It bothered me that I played Nick 12 minutes the other night but I don't make those decisions," Tortorella said. "The decisions are made by the player and what he's doing for the team on a consistent basis. … Nick and I have a really good relationship. We talk about it all the time because I want him to be one of our top players. He has to be."
Foligno will play on the third line against the Ducks and Tortorella wants him to have the edge that's made him successful in the past.
"I thought he met me halfway the other night in showing me that he's willing to play that way so he's going to get some more time tonight," Tortorella said.
Getzlaf said he understands what Foligno is going through.
"Nick hasn't been a captain here very long," he said. "He has things to learn, much as all of us did. When I started being captain, you try to take everything that happens on your back. It's definitely not an easy task when your team is struggling."
Here are the projected lineups:
David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Chris Stewart
Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Andrew Cogliano
Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg - Corey Perry
Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Mike Santorelli
Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen
Injured: Clayton Stoner (hip flexor)
Scratched: Shawn Horcoff, Harry Zolnierczyk, Korbinian Holzer
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad
Nick Foligno - William Karlsson - Matt Calvert
Kerby Rychel - Gregory Campbell - Rene Bourque
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - Cody Goloubef
Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout
Scratched: Justin Falk, Jared Boll
Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Curtis McElhinney (ankle), David Clarkson (upper body), David Savard (oblique)
Status report: Andersen makes his second straight start after making 28 saves in a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. … Rychel was dropped to the fourth line with Foligno going to the third line.
Who's hot: Perry has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in eight games. … The Ducks lead the NHL in penalty kill (89.0 percent). … Dubinsky and Atkinson each had a goal and an assist against the Islanders.