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Blue Jackets charge into final playoff spot

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As the Columbus Blue Jackets sneaked a peek on the tube, watching the Detroit Red Wings stumble at Calgary, a sense of urgency enhanced their business Wednesday.

"Every point at this stage is really critical," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We were watching the game between periods in our coaches' office, so we kind of knew what was going on. It was big to get into overtime because, like I said, every point is big."

The Blue Jackets not only skated into overtime, but they scored a huge road victory. Fedor Tyutin's goal at 2:19 of OT lifted the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 decision over the Anaheim Ducks before 15,074 fans at Honda Center.

"I thought we played a great hockey game," Richards said. "I thought we were faster and more tenacious on the puck. I don't think it's indicative of the shots on goal, but I liked our 60-minute effort tonight. We didn't get down after a fluky, bad goal.

"The bench stayed up, and again, we're finding ways to win hockey games. It's great on the bench right now. The guys believe."

The win bumped the Blue Jackets past the Red Wings, who lost 3-2 to the Flames, into the eighth spot of the Western Conference playoff race. The Blue Jackets have 49 points to 47 for Detroit. Columbus visits the Los Angeles Kings in a pivotal contest Thursday night at Staples Center.

Columbus never led until Tyutin's goal, which he guided past Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth on a pass from Nick Foligno, who delivered the game-winner in overtime two nights earlier in a 2-1 verdict at Colorado.

Foligno spun away from Anaheim's Saku Koivu below the blue line and dropped a pass to Tyutin, who got a stick on it and guided it past Fasth for the winner.

"We are extremely committed," RJ Umberger said regarding the Blue Jackets' push for the playoffs. "That's all we talk about. We want to make the playoffs, and we want to win the Stanley Cup. That's our goal from day one, and this is a committed group."

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots for Columbus, while Fasth finished with 25 saves.

The victory was the fifth in a row for Columbus (21-16-7). Anaheim (27-10-6) suffered its third consecutive setback and saw its once double-digit lead in the Pacific Division fall to seven points over the Kings and the San Jose Sharks.

"We played a good game against L.A., not so good against Dallas, not so good against Colorado and not so good against these guys," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of the team's recent setbacks. "You can't use fatigue as an excuse. It's the same for everybody. For these guys, it was their fourth game in six nights."

"There were lulls in the game where they took the energy back," Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano said.

The Ducks surely seemed to operate as if they were asleep at the wheel after taking leads. They took a 2-1 advantage at 4:53 of the third period on a wild scramble near the Blue Jackets' net. Center David Steckel gathered a loose puck and flicked it toward the goal. The puck went airborne, but when it came down, it dribbled into the net to the left of Bobrovsky, who had lost track of it.

It was Steckel's first goal of the season in 29 games.

Columbus left wing Matt Calvert knotted the score again by rebounding a miss by Brandon Dubinsky and scoring at 9:42 of the third.

The Blue Jackets rallied from a 1-0 deficit with 3:22 remaining in the second period. Blake Comeau fielded a pass just outside the crease from James Wisniewski and slapped it past Fasth for a 1-1 tie.

Defenseman Sami Vatanen put the Ducks on the board with his first NHL goal, coming on a power play at 11:37 of the first period. Vatanen, who was called up Wednesday from the Ducks' Norfolk (Va.) affiliate, scored on assists from Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry six seconds after the Comeau was sent to the penalty box for holding.

"I think this is a good time to go on the road," Cogliano said, referring to the Ducks' upcoming four-game road trip. "Good time to have a bonding trip right before the playoffs and play some good hockey and go into the playoffs with it."

NOTES: The two clubs capped their three-game season series with Columbus taking two out of three. The Blue Jackets earned a 2-1 overtime win March 31 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, while the Ducks prevailed 3-2 on Feb. 18 at Honda Center. ... The Ducks' final regular-season road trip, which lasts four games, begins Friday at Calgary. ... Anaheim has an 11-4-5 road record and has earned 27 points in 20 road games, fifth best in the NHL.
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