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Jackets visit Ducks with playoff spots to protect

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Two teams fighting to stay in playoff spots meet Friday night as the Anaheim Ducks host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Each occupies the last postseason berth in its respective conference.

The Ducks (31-21-12) are coming off a four-day break after suffering a 6-5 shootout loss to Edmonton at home Sunday. Leading scorer Rickard Rakell had a hat trick, including two goals in the final minute of regulation. Ryan Miller made 37 saves, including seven in a spectacular effort in overtime. Connor McDavid beat Miller on the shootout winner.

The Blue Jackets (32-27-5) lost 5-2 in Los Angeles on Thursday night. They opened a 2-0 first period lead but allowed the Kings back in the game with two goals in just over two minutes in the second as Los Angeles scored the final five goals. Joonas Korpisalo made 29 saves for Columbus.

The Blue Jackets added some veteran presence on the weekend before the trade deadline. They picked up defenseman Ian Cole from Ottawa, right wing Thomas Vanek from Vancouver, and center Mark Letestu from Nashville. Letestu had a goal in his first game with the team versus Washington on Monday.

Coach John Tortorella discussed the lineup strategy on the team's website: "I sense they're looking over their shoulder, some of the guys that have played here forever. It's been a year, let's face it, that we have really struggled to grab ahold of getting a fourth line going.

"A lot of our fourth-line players are guys that are still in the process of becoming National Hockey Leaguers. ... I think that's something we've missed this year, a little bit, just the healthy competition within the lineup."

Captain Nick Foligno returned against Los Angeles after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He recorded one shot in 15 minutes, 44 seconds.
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net versus Anaheim after being rested Thursday. His replacement looked awkward at times versus Los Angeles, though he made some difficult saves in the third period.

Said Tortorella: "There's a couple situations in our schedule now where we (can) get (Bobrovsky) three days (of rest), and that's how we're going to try to get it done here."

At the start of the week, Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle was confident that goaltender John Gibson, who had missed part or all of four games with a lower-body injury, would be back. In fact, Gibson started skating Wednesday when the team resumed practice. The players had been given two days off after Sunday's game.

The Ducks strengthened their lineup this week by trading for right wing Jason Chimera (from the New York Islanders) and signing Chris Kelly, who was a free agent after winning an Olympic bronze medal with Team Canada.

Chimera compared being with the Islanders to his new role with Anaheim.

"It's the same kind of urgency, right," he said. "Every game's really important. I know they had some time off here, so guys were able to get refreshed and get going for the final push here.

"There's definitely a different style of play, but I always loved playing against the Western teams. It's going to be a great fit for me."

Kelly skated with the Ducks on Thursday.

"It's been kind of a roller coaster of a year, but to get this opportunity was incredible," Kelly said. "Obviously, a great team. To get that call and be able to join this team, I'm extremely honored."

After playing the Ducks, the Blue Jackets will have one more California team to go through --the San Jose Sharks -- on Sunday evening. The Ducks remain at home for a Sunday afternoon contest with Chicago.
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