ANAHEIM -- Center Ryan Getzlaf had three assists in his return after missing four games with an appendectomy, leading the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center on Friday.
Getzlaf's longtime linemate, Corey Perry, also had three assists to help the Ducks (4-7-2) win their third in a row.
"I felt good," Getzlaf said. "All I can really say is that when you get out there and play hockey, it feels good."
Getzlaf was off to the worst start of his career, with one assist in his first eight games. The Ducks' captain said he felt like his old self Friday and his teammates said he looked like it.
"He's the straw that stirs the drink around here," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "Guys feed off of his energy and his playmaking ability. He's the type of guy that makes everyone else around him a better player by being out there."
Coach Bruce Boudreau has stressed the need for Ducks' top players to play up to their abilities. The Ducks dug themselves an early-season hole by winning one of their first 10 games, and Boudreau said the play of Getzlaf and Perry is vital to climbing back toward the top of the Pacific Division.
"They're the key to our team," Boudreau said. "They're two important pieces to the puzzle, and your best players have got to be your best players. When they are, you usually succeed."
The Ducks took a 1-0 lead when Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney denied Perry on the rush but Fowler knocked in the rebound at 3:28 in the first period.
Anaheim made it 2-0 at 6:43 of the second period when Patrick Maroon found a loose puck at his feet during a power play and beat McElhinney with a snap shot for his first goal of the season.
Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell countered at 9:15, getting a stick on Brandon Dubinsky's shot and deflecting it past Frederik Andersen (34 saves) to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Josh Manson scored his first NHL goal on a wrist shot at 8:46 of the third period to give Anaheim a 3-1 lead.
"Just elation," Manson said. "I think I ran around the ref I was screaming so hard."
Hartnell scored again with a minute left in the third period to make it a one-goal game, but Anaheim defenseman Clayton Stoner scored into an empty net 44 seconds later.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was happy with his team's late push, but lamented the play of the some team leaders.
"I am not down on our team by any means," he said. "I don't think our top guys are consistent enough, and that has to change. But as far as the try, we still have a chance there."
Hartnell has five goals in the past six games. Dubinsky has seven assists and leads the Blue Jackets in scoring with 11 points.
McElhinney made 30 saves for Columbus (4-11-0), which went 2-1-0 on its three-game California swing.
"We're starting to head in the right direction in terms of the identity that we want to establish," McElhinney said. "Guys are making that extra commitment that we need to make. It's just a matter of building on it night in and night out. We did some good things here in the first couple games, and I thought even tonight. It's just a matter at taking that next step to close out a trip."
The Blue Jackets are off until they host the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.