The Ducks will not play another game this month, but not by choice.
Anaheim wrapped up a four-game Eastern trip with another one-goal win, leaning again on their goalie to pull out a tough win in a hostile environment. The wins in Columbus, Montreal and Ottawa gave the Ducks six of a possible eight points on the trip, and brought their January record to 8-3-0.
Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler and Jason Blake scored goals, Blake his 200th in the NHL. Jonas Hiller had another monster game, finishing with 35 saves, including point-blank stops on Rick Nash and Anton Stralman point-blank in the third period.
The Ducks got a needed cushion when Derek Dorsett was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding Corey Perry in the first period. Selanne and Fowler cashed in with power-play goals 61 seconds apart and, just as importantly, Perry returned to the game before the period was over.
Nash scored before the period was over to pull Columbus within 2-1, but Blake’s insurance goal early in the third, on a beautiful backhand flip in front of the net, restored the two-goal margin. Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:54 of the third period cut the lead to 3-2 but the Jackets couldn’t convert with Steve Mason (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.
A few more notes:
In terms of time on ice, the “Masterton Line” of Blake (19:59), Saku Koivu (22:36) and Selanne (21:47) served as the Ducks’ top line. Maybe it was because of the impending All-Star break, but those are unusually high minutes for three players with an average age of 38. It paid off on the scoresheet – Selanne had a goal and an assist, Koivu had two helpers and Blake chipped in with his milestone marker.
Brandon McMillan shifted to center with Bobby Ryan at left wing and Perry on the right. Matt Beleskey shifted to left wing with center Maxim Lapierre and Joffrey Lupul. If the goal was greater success in the faceoff circle, McMillan’s 4-7 night wasn’t exactly inspirational. But neither was Koivu’s (9-19). Only Lapierre (5-1) finished above .500 among the Ducks’ centers.
Nash’s goal actually came at a great time for the Ducks – an instant after a 5-on-3 Columbus power play expired, thus putting the teams back at even strength. Defensemen Toni Lydman and Andy Sutton would normally be on the ice to kill a 5-on-3 penalty, along with forward Todd Marchant, but both were in the penalty box. Instead, defensemen Luca Sbisa and Andreas Lilja helped Marchant kill the two-man advantage.
Selanne’s power-play goal gave him 229 in his career (ninth all-time) and 621 goals for his career. His two points give him 1,305 for his career and 45 this season (in 43 games), tied for 18th in the NHL with Mike Richards.
In the first period, George Parros fought Jared Boll. Give a slight edge to Boll in a battle of the league’s two most frequent fighters.