Streaking Ducks visit Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella wants to believe his team has figured out its issues. They’ll be facing a team on Saturday night that really has its act together.
The Blue Jackets (17-12-2) rebounded from two consecutive losses to start a season-high six-game homestand with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
The Ducks (17-11-5) roll into Nationwide Arena after a come-from-behind 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night at home before preparing to embark on a six-game road trip.
“The road’s a different animal,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “You don’t go on the road thinking you’re going to score four or five goals a game. If we can stay with the mentality that we have to be a blue-collar hockey club and play a blue-collar game, we have enough skill in our lineup from our perspective to put pucks in the back of the net.
“But we have to prevent the goals. That’s the most important thing for us as we go forward.”
Anaheim has won nine of its last 11 games. In the Ducks’ last eight victories, they’ve trailed or been tied heading into the third period before rallying. They’re now 6-8-2 when trailing after two periods, the second-most wins of its kind in the NHL behind the Calgary Flames.
“We’re a resilient group,” said Anaheim defenseman Brandon Montour, who contributed four points (one goal, three assists) in the win over Dallas. “Guys aren’t quitting until the game is over.”
The Ducks were able to wipe out a deficit against the Stars thanks to the first career hat trick by Ondrej Kase. His third goal tied the score in the third period and sparked a four-goal finish for Anaheim.
“He’s been a clutch goal scorer numerous times for our hockey club,” Carlyle said. “He’s been the energizer bunny. He’s that type of player that seems to hound the puck. Now he’s getting rewarded for the hard work he’s putting in.”
On one of Kase’s goals, teammate Ryan Getzlaf was credited with his 900th career assist. He added another assist for 901, which is second in franchise history behind Teemu Selanne’s 988. Getzlaf leads the team this season in assists with 18 and points with 26.
“Getz is a special player,” Carlyle said. “He’s a guy that play in a lot of different situations. A lot of our offense runs through him.”
The Blue Jackets are similar to the Ducks in their ability to produce offense. Columbus ranks seventh in the NHL with 3.42 goals per game through 31 games, but its issue more times than not is keeping pucks out of the net.
“The last couple of games, we’ve played really good defensively I think, so we know we can handle everybody defensively now and we can create a little bit of offense out of that,” Blue Jackets forward Lukas Sedlak said, according to the team’s website. “We know how we have to play, reloads, and when we check we’ll get those chances offensively.”
The Blue Jackets began their homestand with a 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals last Saturday and followed that up with a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday after blowing a third-period lead in the final minutes.
“Now we need to just play the right way and stay consistent,” Tortorella said. “Is it always going to be dead on? No, but you need to turn it in to who you are.
“Have we gotten there yet? No. But hopefully we get some success by playing the right way and they’ll start finding that’s what we are.”
Twelve Blue Jackets players have at least 10 points. Left winger Artemi Panarin leads the team with 34 points and right winger Cam Atkinson has a point in 14 of the past 15 games (13 goals, 10 assists during that span).
“We’re getting scoring from all four lines now,” Columbus right winger Josh Anderson said. “That’s a big part of our success. As soon as one line scores, it gets everybody going on the bench.”