Times are so tough for the Columbus Blue Jackets that the opportunity to climb out of last place in the Western Conference has the club motivated.
The visiting Blue Jackets can do just that with a regulation victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams.
Columbus (11-24-5) avoided a third straight loss with a 1-0 win at Los Angeles on Saturday. With 27 points, the Blue Jackets moved within one of Anaheim (11-22-6), the team they now have a chance to surpass to get out of the cellar.
In order to do that, the Blue Jackets will have to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 19-21. They have not won two in a row away from home since March 12-19.
"It would be a step in the right direction. We finally get a chance to leapfrog somebody,'' forward R.J. Umberger said. "To go out and win two in a row on the road. That's something we haven't done in a while, so (Sunday) will be a big challenge for us.''
Curtis Sanford will be up for the challenge if he gets the chance to make his third straight start after stopping 31 shots Saturday for his first shutout since Dec. 28, 2008, with Vancouver.
"The big thing was just getting the win," Sanford told the NHL's official website. "Shutouts are great, but we've got a big hill to climb. Whenever we can get wins, it's huge."
Sanford, 6-7-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average this season, is 3-1-2 with a 2.27 GAA versus Anaheim.
Steve Mason, who has lost five of his last six starts, needed to make just 18 saves in Columbus' 3-1 home win over the Ducks on Oct. 30. The Blue Jackets have won seven of 11 against the Ducks, but had their four-game winning streak at Anaheim snapped with a 6-0 loss Jan. 7, 2011.
Rick Nash had a goal against the Ducks earlier season, giving him nine with four assists in his last 10 games versus Anaheim.
Nash, however, needs to help the Blue Jackets convert on the power play where they are 0 for 15 in the last six games since going 4 of 6 during a 6-5 loss at Nashville on Dec. 22.
The Ducks snapped a three-game skid with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Friday. Bobby Ryan scored twice, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and Corey Perry added two assists as the Ducks rallied for three third-period goals to score at least four in a game for just the eighth time this season.
"It's a starting point,'' said Ryan, who has five goals with an assist in his last five contests. "Hopefully we can string some things together.''
Getzlaf, who scored the go-ahead goal Saturday, snapped a 12-game scoring drought with his third goal in 30 games.
"It's frustrating for me and I'm sure a lot of other people in the organization," the Ducks captain said. "The hard work is what brings you out of it.''
Getzlaf has seven goals and 16 assists in his last 17 games versus Columbus. Ryan scored the Ducks' lone goal at Columbus in October.
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