NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 21st (All times eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (28-27-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (30-23-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Columbus Blue Jackets are on track for their first-ever postseason berth, the Anaheim Ducks' string of playoff appearances seems to be in jeopardy.
The Blue Jackets will try to earn a point for an eighth consecutive game when the improving club hosts the reeling Ducks tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus is 6-0-1 over its last seven outings, with its lone loss coming to Dallas in a shootout on Monday. The Jackets have won two more times since that setback, most recently edging Toronto by a 4-3 count Thursday at the Air Canada Centre.
That game also went to a shootout, with Justin Williams and Rick Nash each scoring for Columbus in the first two rounds. Toronto's Lee Stempniak then fired a shot wide right to open the third to end the contest and give Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock his 500th career victory.
Nash also had a goal and an assist in regulation, while Kristian Huselius tied the game at 3-3 when he scored off a Nash feed just 1:38 into the third period. Huselius had assisted on Nash's tally earlier in the night.
Columbus, which entered the NHL as an expansion team in 2000-01, is presently tied with Vancouver for fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
The Ducks find themselves out of the playoff picture at the moment and are mired in a three-game losing streak that was extended with Friday's 5-2 loss at Detroit. Anaheim trails eighth-seeded Edmonton by one point entering today's play.
The 2006-07 Stanley Cup champion Ducks have made the postseason in each of the last three seasons and four of the past five campaigns.
Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan had the goals for Anaheim in last night's defeat, while goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere finished with 29 saves.
The Ducks opened up a crucial six-game road trip on Friday in which the club will also make stops in Buffalo, Boston, Dallas and Chicago. Anaheim owns a 13-14-2 record as the visitor on the season.
Anaheim has garnered plenty of success when traveling to Columbus in recent years, however. The Ducks have won in five of their last six visits to Nationwide Arena and came through with a 3-2 road decision over the Jackets on October 27.
The Ducks had also taken seven of their eight most recent meetings with Columbus until the Blue Jackets posted a 2-0 win in Anaheim on New Year's Eve. Rookie goaltender Steve Mason registered one of his league-best seven shutouts on the season by turning aside all 27 shots he faced.
Mason, who stopped 32-of-35 attempts versus Toronto on Thursday, is an impressive 15-5-1 with a 2.10 goals against average at home this season, while the Blue Jackets have won four of their last five games as the host.
02/21 10:36:30 ET