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No shutout for Mason, but Nash powers Blue Jackets

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
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No shutout for Mason, but Nash powers Blue Jackets

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Dave Reed
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Kristian Huselius scored a pair of goals and
captain Rick Nash converted a penalty shot and added three
assists as the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their season-high
winning streak to four games with a 6-1 victory over the
Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

Rookie Steve Mason stopped 23 shots to improve to 13-7-1, but
his shutout streak came to an end at 199 minutes, 28 seconds
when Darcy Tucker gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with 2:40
remaining in the first period.

"When I look back at the goal, I probably should have had it,"
Mason said. "It's kind of disappointing to look at it that way.
It went through a couple of guys, but I didn't get the greatest
push across."

"Mason has been great. It's too bad he let that one in," Nash
said. "In some sense, it was kind of nice just because it was a
huge weight off everyone's shoulders. He's been amazing all
season. A goalie can take you a long way."

Mason was attempting to become just the third goaltender to post
four or more consecutive shutouts. Current San Jose Shark Brian
Boucher holds the modern-day record as he posted five straight
blankings during the 2003-04 season.

"Obviously, everybody makes a big deal about it," Mason said.
"At the end of the day, the most important thing for the hockey
club is getting wins. It's kind of nice that it's out of the
way and we can kind of move on now."

Huselius tied the game at 1-1 at 2:28 of the second period, when
his shot from the right faceoff circle went off the left
goalpost and past netminder Peter Budaj.

Nash, who was awarded the penalty shot after being hooked by
Colorado defenseman Brett Clark, put the Blue Jackets ahead with
7:27 to go in the period, beating Budaj to the stick side. It
was Columbus' first penalty-shot goal since David Vyborny
converted against Nashville on December 17, 2005.

For Nash, it was his first penalty-shot goal in six tries.

"I've struggled with those," Nash said with a grin. "I like
someone hanging off my back and having to do it that way. I
haven't seen the replay of the actual penalty. I know he got me
a little because I wasn't able to raise the puck."

Columbus took a 3-1 lead with 3:50 to play in the second, when
Huselius took a pass from Nash at the bottom of the right circle
and scored in a vacant net. It completed the first multi-goal
effort of the season for Huselius.

"The first one was a good play down low," Huselius said. "We
had a good cycle going. The second one was just a nice pass by
Nash. We're playing well as a team, so we just have to keep it
up."

"We lost the game in the second period," Avalanche coach Tony
Granato admitted.

The Blue Jackets put away the game early in the third as
defenseman Mike Commodore and Jakub Voracek scored goals exactly
one minute apart. Nash set up Commodore's blast from above the
right circle to tie career highs with three assists and four
points.

R.J. Umberger netted a power-play goal with 8:56 remaining as
Columbus matched its best offensive output of the season.

"We were on our heels in the first period," Blue Jackets coach
Ken Hitchcock said. "We weren't prepared for the competitive
level of the game at the start, but we adjusted. We really went
after it and played our game in the second and third periods."

The Blue Jackets extended their recent mastery of the Avalanche
by winning for the fourth time in the last five meetings,
including both matchups here this season.

"It was a heck of a game by the guys," Mason said. "I really
had to do absolutely nothing. After that first period, the guys
came through in a big way."

Colorado, which lost at home for just the second time in its
last nine games, still owns a 13-3-0 all-time record against
Columbus at Pepsi Center.

"They competed, which we didn't do," said Colorado's Ian
Laperriere, who set up the Avalanche's only goal. "It comes
down to the individuals. If you don't prepare yourself for the
game, it doesn't matter which system the coaches put out there.
You won't have any chance to win. That was the best example
tonight."

Budaj finished with 24 saves.

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No shutout for Mason, but Nash powers Blue Jackets