Two struggling franchises looking for a glimmer of hope meet Thursday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Anaheim Ducks.
The Blue Jackets enter the game having lost five of six. They have won just three times in their last 17, posting a 3-14-0 mark in that stretch.
The Ducks have lost five straight, including losses in Pittsburgh on Monday and in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The two teams, along with Chicago, comprise the three-lowest point totals in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Blue Jackets fell at Nashville 2-1 despite a third-period charge. With 16 minutes remaining, Nashville goalie Kevin Lankinen made consecutive saves on shots three seconds apart by Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and forward Cole Sillinger.
Gustav Nyquist eventually scored but it was not enough. Blue Jackets goalie Daniil Tarasov made 26 saves in his first start since Dec. 23 to keep Columbus close.
“We had 20-plus scoring chances; that’s a good night,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “You (only) get one goal, you tip your cap to their goalie. They defend hard, they make you work for your ice, but I thought we did a good job of getting inside, especially in the third (period). You’d like to see us put a few more up on the board there, but that’s how it goes.”
Nyquist cut it to 2-1 at 9:01 of the third, scoring one second after a power play for the Blue Jackets expired.
“We’ve got to find a way to score more goals,” Nyquist said. “One goal is not going to cut it. Their goalie made some saves, but it’s no excuse. We’ve got to bear down and score some more goals, too.”
The Blue Jackets went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 0-for-14 in the past six games.
Sillinger had three shots on goal and four hits in 14:16 of ice time for Columbus after being a healthy scratch for two games.
In Anaheim’s last game Tuesday in Philadelphia, the Ducks kept the game close early, trailing 1-0 after one period. They tied the game 1-1 on Adam Henrique’s team-leading 15th goal just over seven minutes into the second.
But the Ducks gave up the next two goals, including a short-handed goal by Rasmus Ristolainen five minutes later that gave the Flyers the lead for good. Anthony Stolarz made 34 saves in the loss.
“I think it was just execution everywhere,” Henrique said. “Certainly, (we) probably could have prevented a few of the goals with mistakes that we made, whether it be turnovers or whatever it was. That’s where we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity throughout the game.”
Frank Vatrano scored the other goal for the Ducks, who are 0-4-1 since Jan. 8, including a 4-3 loss in overtime at Pittsburgh on Monday.
Anaheim’s skid marks the third time the Ducks have lost at least five in a row, going 0-4-2 from Nov. 25-Dec. 4 and 0-6-1 in a season-long seven-game losing streak from Oct. 15-28.
–Field Level Media