NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 3rd (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (28-23-4) at Anaheim Ducks (40-12-5), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks will try to rebound after being shut out for the first time this season as the NHL leaders host the Columbus Blue Jackets in Monday's matchup at the Honda Center.
The Ducks were blanked 2-0 by visiting Dallas on Saturday, as Stars backup goaltender Dan Ellis turned aside all 26 shots for his first shutout of the season. It also marked the first time Anaheim was held without a goal since a 4-0 loss in San Jose on March 27 of last season.
Although Anaheim holds a nine-point lead atop the Pacific Division and is five points ahead of Chicago for the Western Conference and NHL lead, the club has gone through a rough patch of late. Saturday's setback was the second loss in three games and dropped the Ducks to 4-4-0 over their past eight outings.
Jonas Hiller gave up just one goal on 26 shots in Saturday's loss for the Ducks, who were coming off a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Thursday.
"I don't think we played really good the first two periods," Hiller said. "It just didn't seem to work out. We had some chances in the third, but Ellis played pretty well. We weren't able to find the back of the net."
The Ducks were playing without forward Nick Bonino, who is dealing with an upper-body injury suffered in the win over Philadelphia and is questionable for tonight. Anaheim defenseman Mark Fistric also left Saturday's tilt with a lower-body injury and he is questionable for Monday's test as well.
Anaheim fell to 22-3-2 on home ice this season after the loss to the Stars and is playing the fourth part of a five-game homestand tonight. The Ducks will host Chicago on Wednesday before completing its pre-Olympic slate Saturday in Nashville.
The Blue Jackets, who play the first three tests on a four-game road trip before the league goes on hiatus for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, are 12-12-2 as the visiting team this season. After beginning the swing this evening in Orange County, Columbus will visit Los Angeles and San Jose before finally completing the trip on Feb. 27 at New Jersey.
Columbus has won two straight on the heels of a three-game slide and the club boasts an 11-4-0 record over its past 15 games. The Blue Jackets halted their 0-3-0 stretch with Thursday's 5-2 win over visiting Washington and picked up another home win in Saturday's 4-1 decision against the Florida Panthers.
Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner both tallied a goal and an assist to help lead the Blue Jackets past the Panthers on Saturday. Johansen, who had two goals in Thursday's win over the Capitals, has recorded four points (3 goals, 1 assist) over the past two games and he is leading Columbus in both goals (22) and points (42) this season.
Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno both lit the lamp and Nathan Horton registered two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 36 shots for the Blue Jackets.
"They made it tough on us. We needed Bob to make a save and he made a save for us. We played a great game, that's what we need to do moving forward. Guys stepped up," said Johansen.
Although it is tied with Philadelphia at 60 points, Columbus currently owns third place in the Metropolitan Division thanks to holding the tiebreaker over the Flyers due to having played one less game. The top-three teams from each division earn an automatic bid to the postseason.
The Ducks recorded a 4-3 regulation win at Columbus on Oct. 27, giving Anaheim three wins in the past five meetings in this series. The Blue Jackets have won in two of their last three trips to Anaheim.
02/03 10:55:34 ET