Vancouver Canucks\' Sami Salo of Finland, left, and Columbus Blue Jackets\' Kristian Huselius, of Sweden, fight for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Vernon
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Rick Nash made the play of the game. The rest was up to Steve Mason and the defence.
Kristian Huselius scored off Nash's blue-collar assist with 4:44 left and Columbus beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Monday night, giving the Blue Jackets their first win this season after allowing the first goal. Nash had two defenders draped on him as he carried the puck out of the corner and over the left dot before feeding Huselius, who was all alone at the right side of the crease for his ninth of the year.
"We lost (track of) a pretty good player and he found a way to make a great play," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Huselius said he was almost a bystander.
"It was a great pass, a great effort," he said. "Rick caught two guys playing him and made a great pass to me and I just had to one-time it."
The Canucks threatened for much of the final two minutes. Rookie goaltender Mason thrust his arms in the air in celebration - or was it relief? - as the final horn sounded.
Mason improved to 6-2-1 in his first professional season, stopping 29 shots. But it was anything but easy.
The Canucks, already without Roberto Luongo, lost goaltender Curtis Sanford to back spasms. He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first period before giving way to rookie Cory Schneider.
The Canucks peppered him with shots while on the power play late in the game after pulling Schneider for a two-man advantage. Mason's best save came with his glove on the ice on a shot by Kyle Wellwood, who had Vancouver's first goal.
"It was definitely a big scrum," Mason said. "It was a lot of fun to be a part of, especially since we came out on the winning end. It's not nice taking a penalty with about two minutes to go, but we did a great job killing it off."
The Canucks put four shots on goal, had two others go just wide and had another blocked during the frantic finish.
Columbus came in 0-6-3 when the opponent scored first, becoming the last team in the NHL to win after falling behind 1-0.
Fredrik Modin and Andrew Murray added goals for Columbus. Nash had two assists and Huselius had a helper to go with his winner.
Kevin Bieksa gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead early in the final period. Alexander Edler had two assists for the first time in his 120-game NHL career. The Canucks are 0-2 to start a seven-game road trip.
Murray evened it again midway through the third period when he backhanded in a rebound of Mike Commodore's drive from the point.
"I haven't been contributing like I need to," Murray said. "To be able to score a big third-period goal in a tight game like this, it's a great feeling."
After Huselius scored from Nash, the Blue Jackets hung on.
"This was kind of payback for the games we've played so well and then something (bad) has happened in the end," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That save Mase made was unbelievable ... terrific."
Notes: The game was the 300th home game for the Blue Jackets (137-121-18-24). ... The loss was the third in a row for the Canucks. ... Methot has assists in his last three games, the longest points streak in his career. ... Schneider faced 18 shots, stopping 15.