Columbus Blue Jackets\' Antoine Vermette, right, scores against Florida Panthers\' Scott Clemmensen, left, as Blue Jackets\' R.J. Umberger (18) and Panthers\' Keaton Ellerby (4) and Dmitry Kulikov, of Russia, wait in vain for a rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 29, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The goal was important because it was Maksim Mayorov's first in the NHL.
That it came in a shootout and gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a win made it even more special.
The rookie, playing in his ninth NHL game, had the lone goal in his first NHL shootout, and Steve Mason stopped all three Florida Panthers attempts to lead the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win on Tuesday night.
"We needed this goal. We needed this win," Mayorov said after Columbus ended a four-game losing skid and a string of six straight home defeats. "We tried so hard, we worked so hard. We deserved this game."
Shooting second for Columbus, Mayorov scored on a lefty shot from the right hash, beating Scott Clemmensen on the glove side.
He refused to concede that it was his No. 1 move.
"Oh, I've got a couple," he said. "It's one of my favourites."
Mason then stopped Mike Santorelli and Sergei Samsonov to seal the win and break the Blue Jackets' streak of six consecutive shootout losses.
"In the last two shootouts, we haven't scored one goal," he said. "Max made a great shot. In practice, his shot is very deceptive. Obviously, it fooled Clemmensen."
Scottie Upshall and Antoine Vermette scored in regulation for Columbus.
"These guys needed a win to lose that crappy feeling we've had for an extended period of time, especially at home," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We were real good for most of the game. Guys aren't quitting, they're still playing hard and going after teams."
Upshall, acquired at the trade deadline in a four-player deal with Phoenix, was enthused about the performance.
"Great effort by our offensive guys. We created a lot of chances early. We played just a solid game," he said. "We were on the right side of the puck, we didn't take too many chances. Guys stepped up, a lot of guys played some big minutes and got the job done for us."
Mayorov, the Blue Jackets' fifth pick and 94th overall in the 2007 draft, is trying to impress coaches so he can stick with the team—the rest of this year and beyond.
"We battle every game, every period, every 20 minutes. We go as hard as we can," he said. "Especially for me, I need to show the coaches that I can play here."
Evgeny Dadonov and David Booth had goals for Florida, which lost its sixth in a row.
"We looked like we were playing our fifth game in seven nights," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was a real gutsy effort by our group. The last game of a road trip that hasn't been easy."
To make matters even worse, the Panthers lost one of their mainstays, veteran forward Marty Reasoner, for the rest of the game after he blocked a shot in the first period.
Mason stopped 29 shots through overtime. Clemmensen had 30 saves.
The Blue Jackets were thrilled to finally leave their home ice with a win.
"Certainly (Mason) has had a tough go, as has the rest of the team, with us trying to score goals recently," Arniel said. "It's good for him. He won us the hockey game by shutting them down (in the shootout). It was important for his confidence."
Notes: The Blue Jackets signed G Allen York, a junior at RPI, to a two-year, entry-level contract. ... The Panthers were 1-for-3 on the power play. The Blue Jackets failed on three opportunities and are 0-for-36 over the last 10 games. ... The franchises combined for five wins and 23 losses since the trade deadline on Feb. 28.