The Anaheim Ducks might have first place in the Pacific Division all-but officially guaranteed at this point, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in going into the playoffs on a high note. Anaheim went as far as to scratch defenseman Cam Fowler tonight in response to their 7-2 blowout loss to the Rangers on Sunday, but that wasn’t enough as Columbus came away with a 5-3 victory over the Ducks.
Anaheim gained a 2-0 edge tonight, but Scott Hartnell led the Blue Jackets with Columbus’ first hat trick at Nationwide Arena since 2012. He started that run with a power-play goal at 15:35 of the first period.
Hartnell’s final goal came on an empty netter and while those tend not to be glamorous, he did have to work hard for this one:
Columbus forward Ryan Johansen also had a big night with his 24th goal and 39th assist of the season. He’s on a five-game point streak.
Anaheim will attempt to bounce back on Thursday in Boston. Given how badly the Bruins need a win after Ottawa passed them in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race, the Ducks should have their hands full in that contest.
The Vancouver Canucks took a 2-0 lead with goals just 40 seconds apart early in the second period, but their fortunes dramatically reserved in what ended up being a 6-2 loss to Columbus.
Marko Dano, 20, played a big part in the Blue Jackets’ comeback with two goals and an assist. Scott Hartnell netted his 22nd marker of the season midway through the third period to chase Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack out of the game.
Lack, who has been very effective for the most part in place of Ryan Miller (knee), turned aside just 25 of 30 shots. Jacob Markstrom made his first appearance for Vancouver since his “nightmare” performance on March 3 and saved both shots that he faced.
Every loss is problematic for a team battling for a playoff spot and coughing up a game against a squad near the bottom of the standings is always going to sting. Having said that, the timing of this setback is particularly bad for Vancouver for a couple of reasons. For starters, Calgary, Winnipeg, and San Jose all won tonight so the Western Conference race has tightened significantly. The other factor is that this was Vancouver’s final opportunity to feast on an Eastern Conference opponent.
The Canucks are 21-10-1 against the East in 2014-15, even with tonight’s loss. By comparison, Vancouver is 19-16-3 against Western Conference opponents and that’s all the squad has left.
Vancouver will play against Los Angeles next, which it has a 0-3-0 record against in 2014-15.
Columbus’ Scott Hartnell and a pair of goalies — the Rangers’ Cam Talbot and Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond — have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 15, the league announced on Monday.
Hartnell led the NHL with five goals and shared second in the League with five points to power the Blue Jackets (30-35-4, 64 points) to three wins in four starts.
Talbot went 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .969 save percentage to backstop the Rangers (44-17-7, 95 points) to the No. 1 overall position in the NHL standings.
Hammond posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.30 goals-against average and .957 save percentage to pull the Senators (33-24-11, 77 points) within five points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
March has been a pretty good month for Hammond and Talbot. The former was also named the league’s first star of the week back on Mar. 2, and Talbot was named third star last week.