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DUCKS (23-7-4) at BLUE JACKETS (14-14-7)
TV: PRIME, FS-Ohio
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, Anaheim held on for a 3-2 win, improving its record to 5-1-1 over the last seven meetings with Columbus.
Big story: Sitting just outside postseason contention, Columbus will gun for a vital two points when it welcomes Anaheim on Sunday. The Jackets sit just a point below No. 8 St. Louis, but are among a group of seven teams separated by just five points. The Ducks, impressive for so long this season, had lost four straight games before defeating Chicago, 2-1, on Friday night.
Ducks: Looking simply at the standings, it might appear as if Anaheim is the more secure side in this duel. But four straight losses – two each to Detroit and San Jose – 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 getting the winning goal 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 early in the third. Anaheim didn’t panic, and the Ducks' compoure 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," said Souray. "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 postseason appearance since 2008-09 and only the second in franchise history, the Blue Jackets certainly aren’t making it easy on themselves. After an impressive start to March, the Jackets lost three straight games on their recently concluded 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 Calgary, tying a season-high for goals in just 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 its playing at home. The Blue Jackets are 8-0-3 are over their last 11 at Nationwide Arena. … Jonas Hiller made 25 saves against Chicago on Friday, and is 4-0-1 over his last six starts versus 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 with their respective ailments. Derek Dorsett will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.