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Ducks end losing streak in Columbus

With every game considered important to playoff chase, Jean-Sebastien Giguere stops 26 shots against the Blue Jackets.

February 22, 2009|Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are seven weeks left, yet the Ducks consider each game important enough to make or break their season.

Corey Perry had a goal and two assists, four teammates also scored and the Ducks ended a three-game slide, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, on Saturday night.

"We described it as the most important game of the year," Coach Randy Carlyle said about his decision to go with Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal for the second night in a row. "So are you not going to play your best people? Simple as that. It makes the decision easy."

The game pitted two of the 11 teams within 10 points of the final four playoff spots in the Western Conference at the start of the day.

Perry said all the Ducks know they can't afford any more slip-ups.

"We know what's ahead of us and who's ahead of us in the standings," he said. "We're chasing some teams that we're playing next. We have to have the two points every night."

Chris Pronger, Brendan Morrison, Chris Kunitz and Bobby Ryan also scored for the Ducks, who showed no ill effects from playing consecutive nights to start a season-long six-game trip. Ryan Getzlaf and Scott Niedermayer each had two assists, and Giguere stopped 26 shots while squaring his record at 15-15-4.

Giguere had been manhandled in a 5-2 loss in Detroit on Friday night.

"This feels great. After a tough loss yesterday, tonight was a must-win game," he said. "We answered the bell. We were physical, we fought, we scored some goals. It was a big road game. We have to have that kind of effort."

Clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the second period, Anaheim picked up two quick goals to put the game out of reach. They came on the Ducks' only two shots of the period. They had eight shots in the opening period and only five the rest of the game -- but scored on three of them.

"We scored on our chances, that's really the difference in the hockey game," Carlyle said. "Tonight pucks went in for us. We were fortunate. We made the most of our opportunities."

First, Perry beat Columbus defenseman Jan Hejda to a loose puck in the offensive zone and swooped in on goalie Steve Mason, beating him with a low, hard shot between his leg pads for his 21st of the season. Less than four minutes later, Perry collected the puck behind the goal and, while two Blue Jackets collided trying to get to the puck, he slid a centering pass that Kunitz jammed in.

"They're all big from here on in," Niedermayer said.

Rick Nash had a goal and an assist, and Kristian Huselius also scored for Columbus, which had picked up points in its previous seven games.

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