COLUMBUS, Ohio — Daniel Sprong has been an Anaheim Duck for less than two weeks. On Saturday night, he went a long way toward ingratiating himself with his new teammates.
Traded to Anaheim Dec. 3 by Pittsburgh, Sprong scored twice — including in overtime — to lift the Ducks over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 and begin a five-game trip on a positive note.
Adam Henrique won a faceoff in the Ducks offensive zone before skating in to screen goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, allowing Sprong to move above the right circle and snap a shot to the top corner of the net 1:19 into the extra period.
"I picked it up and just went to find some space, and I saw (Columbus defenceman Seth) Jones give me a bit of room, and (Henrique) did a great job screening in front," Sprong said.
John Gibson stopped 36 shots for Anaheim in a tight, high-energy game played mostly in Columbus' offensive zone. The Ducks have now won four straight and eight of nine.
"We know it's not always going to be pretty," Gibson said.
Markus Nutivaara scored in the first period, and Bobrovsky had 20 saves for Columbus, which has lost five of seven. The Blue Jackets are 1-1-1 in the last three, but coach John Tortorella is satisfied with the effort and style of play in the midst of a six-game homestand.
"We haven't been getting rewarded, but we've played three good hockey games here," Tortorella said. "We just have to keep our wits about ourselves here and keep on playing."
The Blue Jackets started it at 12:06 in the first period when Boone Jenner won a faceoff and shovelled it back to Nutivaara, who rifled in a slap shot from above the left circle. It was his fourth goal of the season and first in eight games.
Later in the period, Sprong tied it when his shot from the goal line glanced off Bobrovsky while the goalie was trying to seal the near post.
The second and third periods were physical but scoreless.
"Especially down the stretch there in the third, we had our opportunities to put one home and you have to capitalize on one of those in those tight games if you want to come out on the right side of it," Jenner said.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said he saw signs of his team being tired but being able to fight through it.
"We've been able to grind out points when it looked grim," he said. "We've found ways to score timely goals."
Sprong has three goals in five games with Anaheim after not scoring while with Pittsburgh, which parted with him in exchange for Marcus Pettersson.
NOTES: Anaheim forward Kiefer Sherwood, who grew up in the Columbus suburb of New Albany, played his first game at Nationwide Arena. His younger brother Kole Sherwood is a Blue Jackets prospect. ... Ducks F Andrew Cogliano played in his 900th NHL game. ... Columbus F Anthony Duclair was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Lukas Sedlak replaced him in the lineup. ... The Ducks kicked off a five-game trip. Their only loss since Nov. 25 was a 4-1 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 7.
Anaheim: At Pittsburgh on Monday.
Columbus: Hosts Vegas on Monday.
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