Blue Jackets vs. Ducks Preview
ANAHEIM, CA (AP) - Since owning the NHL's top road record in late November, the Columbus Blue Jackets have won just once away from home. A visit to Honda Center could help the Blue Jackets double that total.
Columbus goes for its fifth straight win in Anaheim on Friday night while the Ducks continue to search for production from their top line without injured captain Ryan Getzlaf.
After opening a NHL-best 8-1-0 on the road, the Blue Jackets (20-17-3) are just 1-7-2 on opponents' home ice since Thanksgiving. Columbus fell to 0-2-0 on this four-game trip Tuesday with a 4-2 loss to Phoenix.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Ducks -130 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Blue Jackets. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 55% of more than 540 bets for this game have been placed on the Ducks -130.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," coach Scott Arniel said after the Coyotes moved past his club in the Western Conference standings. "It's too tight of a race and there's too much going on."
The Blue Jackets, who enter the third game of a stretch of eight of 10 on the road, make their second visit to Anaheim this season. After captain Rick Nash scored twice to lead Columbus to a 3-1 home win over the Ducks on Oct. 20, the Blue Jackets left Anaheim with a 4-3 victory Nov. 19 despite being outshot 50-29.
Steve Mason, who made 24 of his career high-tying 47 saves in the third period of that matchup, will likely be in net for Columbus on Friday after Mathieu Garon yielded four goals and lost his third consecutive start Tuesday.
Mason is 4-2-0 with a 2.68 goals-against average versus Anaheim.
He will face a Ducks team in the midst of a month without Getzlaf, who suffered broken bones in his face when a puck struck him during a 3-1 victory at Phoenix on Dec. 28.
Playing its first game since learning its second-leading scorer will likely not return to the lineup for at least four weeks, Anaheim (21-18-4) had its four-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday, losing 4-1 to Nashville.
With Bobby Ryan sliding alongside Corey Perry as the first-line center in place of Getzlaf, coach Randy Carlyle did not get any offensive production from the line. The coach tried both Matt Beleskey and Maxim Lapierre at left wing, with Lapierre making his Ducks debut after arriving from Montreal last week via trade.
"We just didn't have it tonight," Saku Koivu said after scoring his 11th goal of the season. "... There were a lot of shots (41) and we created a lot of cycles, but we weren't able to create a lot of quality chances."
The Ducks had been among the top power-play teams in the league, but they are 1 for 14 with the man advantage over the last five games after going 0 for 4 versus Nashville.
Columbus has killed 16 of 18 penalties over the last five games.
Offensively, the Blue Jackets will look for forward R.J. Umberger to continue his goal-scoring surge. He has found the back of the net in four consecutive games, with six goals in his last seven.
Umberger has no goals in six career games in Anaheim, but Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller has posted a 3.58 GAA while losing his last three starts against the Blue Jackets.
Nash has just one goal in his last 11 road games, but has three in his last two games in Anaheim.
The Blue Jackets have won five of six in this matchup.