OT win boosts Blue Jackets to eighth place

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mark Letestu's goal with one minute remaining in overtime pushed the Blue Jackets into the playoff picture and stamped Columbus' month of March with a mighty exclamation point.

Letestu's ninth goal of the season, off a nifty feed from defenseman Nikita Nikitin, lifted the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks and moved Columbus into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference.

Not bad for a club that returned home Saturday from a four-game road trip in three different time zones.

"I'm really pleased, really proud," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "I think we hit a wall there in the third period. Anaheim stepped it up and forced us to play a faster, harder game in the third period, but our tanks were running on fumes."

The Blue Jackets were widely considered the worst club in hockey when the 2012-13 season dawned. Instead, they've been one of the NHL's hottest clubs for more than a month.

Columbus went 10-2-4 in March, a 24-point month that was the best in franchise history. The win also extended the Blue Jackets' point streak in Nationwide Arena to a franchise-best 12 games.

"It's a big win for us because we knew this was going to be a real test," Letestu said. "They're a big club. They lean on you. The third period is always harder than the first, so we had to find a way.

"I'm proud that I scored that one for us, but I know the guys in this room right now. If I didn't score it, somebody else would have. That's just how we're going right now."

Derick Brassard scored for the Blue Jackets, while goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves.

Emerson Etem scored for the Ducks, who have lost five of their past six games. Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, who made 16 saves, didn't face a shot for the first 16 minutes of the third period.

Anaheim outshot the Blue Jackets 17-1 in the third period but couldn't beat Bobrovsky.

"You obviously don't like the result," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm just frustrated that (even though we did) play well, we kept pushing and pushing, but we're missing opportunities that guys shouldn't be missing. They're right in front of the net.

"We're doing things that aren't Duck-like. We're not paying the price to score enough goals."

After two wild games out West -- a 6-4 loss in Edmonton on Thursday and a 6-4 win in Calgary on Friday -- the Blue Jackets settled back into their preferred style of play, which features lots of tight checking and not many scoring chances.

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead at 9:34 of the second period.

Letestu fired intentionally wide of the net and off the end boards, and Brassard played the carom perfectly, flipping it inside the near post before Hiller could cover.

It wasn't until early in the third that the Ducks pulled even.

Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen forced Blue Jackets winger R.J. Umberger into a turnover in his own zone, and then Andrew Cogliano fed Etem for a clean look at Bobrovsky.

Otherwise, the game was played mostly a sleepy pace. The clubs combined for nine shots on goal in the second period.

NOTES: Umberger left the game bleeding late in the second period after getting punched by Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray during a puck battle. Umberger returned to start the third period. ... Blue Jackets winger Jared Boll, who is third in the NHL with 10 fighting majors, is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. He left Friday's win in Calgary. ... Anaheim begins a four-game road trip on Monday in Dallas, then plays six of its next seven in Honda Center. ... Columbus plays the Predators on Thursday in Nashville. ... The Blue Jackets placed left winger Nick Foligno on injured reserve with an upper body injury.