COLUMBUS, Ohio - After the longest 5 1/2 weeks in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets finally had something to smile about.
Fredrik Modin backhanded in a rebound of his own shot 3:12 into overtime to give Columbus a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night, ending the Blue Jackets' franchise-tying nine-game winless skid.
"It feels good to get a win, finally," Modin said after a wild, celebratory scrum on the ice. "It's been a struggle. We've been trying to find our game here for a long period of time. This is definitely a step in the right direction."
The victory was a relief for Columbus, which had won just two of its previous 19 games. The Blue Jackets had managed just eight goals in their previous six games.
Steve Mason had 34 saves for his second shutout of the year, turning back the clock to his remarkable season last year when he posted 10 shutouts and captured the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.
He came in just 10-13-5 on the year while allowing 3.40 goals a game - after going 33-20-7 and giving up 2.29 last season.
"I have to play well in order for us to get wins," he said. "Obviously, I haven't really been doing that a whole lot this year. For myself, this was a good game. But it's a team effort at the same time. What I did tonight is what's expected of me. I need to do it more often."
Modin carried the puck into the offensive zone and past defenceman Brett Lebda to flick a shot at Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard. He stopped that shot but Modin continued to skate and was able to backhand the rebound past a diving Lebda and behind Howard.
Limited to just eight games this year by a troublesome knee injury, the goal was his first of the season and first since Feb. 10.
"I think we've been feeling it coming along over the last few games that we played," Modin said. "We played a good game in Detroit (a 2-1 loss on Saturday night) as well. We didn't come out on top there but I thought we carried a lot of that with us tonight. It was a tight game (with) chances both ways. Obviously, Steve was phenomenal for us and made some huge saves to keep us in the game."
Mason tied the franchise mark for career shutouts with his 12th, matching Marc Denis' total.
"We need him to play that way to win games," captain Rick Nash said. "We need to score more goals, but if Mase plays like that, we're going to win a lot of games."
Both goalies were stellar in the second period in particular, each turning away 16 shots in a wild 20 minutes.
Mason pounced on Pavel Datsyuk's jam attempt off of Brian Rafalski's backdoor pass while Detroit applied pressure during 43 seconds of a 5 on 3. He also stymied Valtteri Filppula from short range when the Red Wings were on the subsequent power play.
"It was a goaltenders' battle," said Howard, who had 39 saves. "He made two or three great glove saves. It was our first head-to-head battle and it probably won't be our last. He had a hell of a year last year and has been struggling a bit this year, but he is a good goalie and played a good game."
Howard made three clutch saves in the final seconds of the Blue Jackets' second man-advantage of the game.
Perhaps Mason's best stop came after he gave up a long rebound on a Lebda blast in the final minute of the second period. The puck went directly to a trailing Tomas Holmstrom for a one-timer, but Mason gloved his hard shot.
"Holmstrom had the best chance," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He had the whole net and put it in his glove. Both teams had lots of good chances."
The crowd, sprinkled with Red Wings jerseys, gave both netminders a loud ovation as the period ended.
"I felt like, for four games now, if we kept playing the same way, good things will happen," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
NOTES: Just a few hours before the game, the Blue Jackets traded F Jason Chimera to Washington for D Milan Jurcina and RW Chris Clark. ... The Blue Jackets have scored two or fewer goals in their last seven games. ... Detroit D Brad Stuart had to swat a balloon into the stands in the overtime after the officials could not reach it. ... The Blue Jackets had lost five of their previous six games at home.