Blue Jackets-Ducks Preview
The Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets had higher aspirations than the eight points each club has produced so far.
The Ducks are still languishing with the league's worst offense, though they have won three straight at home entering Friday's matchup with the improving Blue Jackets.
Anaheim (3-7-2) rallied in a victory for the first time, beating Florida 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday. Corey Perry's power-play goal with six seconds left in regulation tied the game before the Ducks converted twice after overtime.
''It certainly was an important win for us, especially coming from behind, which we hadn't done all year,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''I think they're starting to believe a little bit, but until you get (a streak) to three, four, five in a row, it's still a work in progress.''
Perry finally scored his first goal in clutch fashion with Anaheim, considered a Stanley Cup contender in the preseason, nearing another defeat.
''It's been a long time coming,'' said Perry, who has seven career 25-goal seasons. ''You stick with it and you keep pushing, and you try not to get too frustrated. Finally found a bounce and had to make the right shot. It's been a struggle, but if you keep getting chances ... and you stick with it, it's bound to go in at one point.''
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has missed the last four games after an appendectomy. He took part in Thursday's practice and is listed as doubtful. Anaheim could sorely use him since it's averaging a league-worst 1.3 goals.
Center Rickard Rakell's status is in doubt after he left Wednesday with an upper-body injury and did not practice the next day.
Columbus (4-10-0) was the league's hottest team to close 2014-15, going 12-0-1, and a second playoff berth in three seasons seemed attainable heading into the season. The Blue Jackets, though, dropped their first eight games, with John Tortorella replacing Todd Richards as coach before the final one of that slide.
Tortorella has helped Columbus win four of its last six, including Thursday's 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist and Gregory Campbell notched the first goal of his Blue Jackets career.
"It's a good win for us. I feel good for the guys," Tortorella told the club's Twitter account. "But you know what? It means squat tomorrow."
One player receiving more ice time under Tortorella is center William Karlsson, a second-round Ducks pick who was traded to the Blue Jackets on March 2. Karlsson returns to Anaheim after playing 18 games with the club last season as a rookie.
The Blue Jackets will start either Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 31 saves Thursday, or backup Curtis McElhinney.
The Ducks will likely start Frederik Andersen, who has a 2.03 goals-against average, and has won two straight after starting 0-5-2.
"He's kept us close and kept (us) in and as long as you get goaltending like that, you're going to be in the game," Boudreau said.
Anaheim has the league's best penalty kill at 90.5 percent while Columbus is second-worst at 73.9. The Ducks are third-worst on the power play at 10.8 percent while the Blue Jackets are 15th-best at 18.9.
These teams have split four meetings since Columbus joined the Eastern Conference two seasons ago.