Jackets try to put last game behind them, face Ducks
DUCKS (6-8-2) at BLUE JACKETS (9-6-2)
Last 10: Anaheim 3-6-1; Columbus 4-4-2
Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. Columbus won at Anaheim, 6-4, on Oct. 24 as Jakub Voracek and Rick Nash each scored twice and Fedor Tyutin had the winner with just 3:22 left in the game.
Big Story: It might be Friday the 13th, but Wednesday was Fright Night for the Blue Jackets, who got hammered at Nationwide Arena, 9-1, by Detroit. The Ducks fared no better in New Jersey, losing 3-1. A 3-1 road loss you can stomach, but getting blasted by eight goals at home is pretty hard to take. It'll be very interesting to see how the Jackets respond in a gut-check moment of the season.
Ducks: Anaheim went 0-for-7 on the power play Wednesday and has scored just three times over its last 27 power plays spanning five games. The Ducks are 2-2-1. The good news is they might be able to find a cure in Ohio's capital city. Columbus has been below average on the PK all season and is a shade below 78 percent after giving up a pair of power-play goals to Detroit on Wednesday.
The Ducks had won back-to-back home games before heading to New Jersey to start a four-game road trip. The Ducks are getting production from their top-six forwards -- both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are on nine-game point streaks -- but their seven other forwards have combined for 13 points and a minus-8 rating. They are hoping that Saku Koivu, who missed Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury, can get back into the lineup tonight.
Coach Ken Hitchcock said the Jackets have been making the same mistakes in the last three games, but they got away with them in wins over Atlanta and Carolina. They obviously did not get away with them against the Red Wings.
On Thursday, Hitchcock put them through a purposeful practice complete with a video session right on the bench. He believes their forecheck was miserable against the Red Wings and they have shown little to no fight or want to as of late. He said they are not checking.
Hitchcock did not put the blame for Wednesday's loss on goalie Steve Mason
's shoulders even though he let in eight goals, but Mason won't be in net tonight. The Jackets are going with Mathieu Garon
, who stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief.
Getzlaf and Perry are each on nine-game point streaks. During the span, Perry has 13 points on eight goals and five assists while Getzlaf also has 13 points, but on a goal and 12 assists. Nash has six goals and two assists over the last six games, but it should be noted that he's also a minus-5.
For the Ducks, Koivu (lower body) is likely a game day decision. Getting Huselius back is good news for Columbus, but the Jackets will be without Raffi Torres for at least a week or possibly two after he got hit in the mouth by a deflected puck Wednesday. Sammy Pahlsson is also out for tonight with an upper-body injury. Fredrik Modin and Andrew Murray
are on I.R.
Anaheim won both games in Columbus last season, 3-2 and 5-2, respectively. Jean-Sebastien Giguere started all four games between the teams last season. He also started the one meeting earlier this season, but left the game with his groin injury. He hasn't played since. Jonas Hiller has started the last seven games and has played in the last 11. He's 6-6-1 with a .917 save percentage and 2.79 GAA this season. He has never started a game against Columbus. … The Jackets' eight-goal loss Wednesday night tied a team record for largest margin of defeat. They lost, 8-0, to Boston on Feb. 4, 2002 and 10-2, to San Jose on March 30, 2002. The nine goals were the most they have allowed in a home game in franchise history. The most goals Mason allowed in a single game last season, when he won the Calder Trophy, was five (five times).
"I have really enjoyed building this team, but I'm also finding out that when you reach a certain level the next step is the hardest one," Hitchcock said. "Getting to become a playoff team was a big step, but the next step to becoming legit night in and night out to me is a bigger challenge. That is the one we're going through right now."