The Columbus Blue Jackets were riding a five-game losing streak, were shut out a night earlier in a game that saw them manage 11 shots on goal, and were missing their captain and best player (Rick Nash) due to injury.
For 40 minutes Tuesday night, the Ducks were no match for them.
Foiled early and often by goaltender Mathieu Garon, and unable to exploit seven power-play chances, the Ducks reverted to the kind of undisciplined hockey that marked their early-season struggles.
By the time they developed a sense of desperation in the third period, goals by Lubomir Visnovsky and Ryan Getzlaf were not enough to bring them back. Nor could they overcome their 11th penalty of the evening — Antoine Vermette’s power-play goal with 1:58 left in the third period made it 4-2 to seal the Ducks’ fate.
Garon made 36 saves, the biggest a diving glove heist of Dan Sexton at 11:55 of the first period. It was rivaled only by Garon’s pad save on Bobby Ryan at 15:39 as Ryan tried to finish an odd-man rush.
Jonas Hiller wasn’t nearly as sharp on the other end. Perhaps the loudest applause to that point came when he was pulled for Curtis McElhinney at 13:07 of the second period following the Blue Jackets’ third goal.
McElhinney proceeded to stop seven of nine shots, allowing the goal to Vermette and another to Derick Brassard with 16.5 seconds left in the game.
Visnovsky’s 4-on-4 tally at 9:11 of the third period broke the shutout, and Getzlaf legitimized the comeback bid with a top-shelf goal at 14:56. The Ducks outshot Columbus 17-4 in the final period.
But Anaheim got no help when a shot by Saku Koivu trickled under the pads of Garon 28 seconds into the period then had it waved off; the call was held up after a review. Koivu had been shoved from behind, dislodging the net, which was apparently enough to disallow the goal.
Teemu Selanne missed the game with “flu-like symptoms” and was replaced by Sexton as the second-line right wing.
Both teams were hit with 12 penalties for 33 minutes.