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Pascal Leclaire backstops Blue Jackets to 3-2 shootout win over Sens

The Canadian Press
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Ottawa Senators\' Dany Heatley, of Germany, celebrates teammate Andrej Meszaros, of Slovakia, (not pictured) goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets\' Pascal Leclaire, back, as Manny Malhotra, skates past, front, during second period NHL hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Thursday Feb. 21, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Author: The Hockey News

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Pascal Leclaire backstops Blue Jackets to 3-2 shootout win over Sens

The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA - Rick Nash would like to see more of the Ottawa Senators - especially after his performance Thursday night.

Nash scored once in regulation and added another goal in shootout to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to the franchise's first win in Canada's capital, a come-from-behind 3-2 triumph.

Columbus (28-26-9) twice rallied from a goal down en route to stopping a two-game losing slide against a team it hasn't seen all that often. The Blue Jackets have played in Ottawa just four times and Thursday's visit was their first since Nov. 13, 2003. Overall, the teams have met just seven times.

"I'm looking forward to that new schedule that they're talking about playing a home-and-home with everybody," said Nash, who scored his 32nd goal in the second period. "I think that's important for all the fans and for all the teams to see each other once (at home).

"For Canadian kids, it's always fun coming to cities like these."

It wasn't so much fun for the Senators.

Cory Stillman scored his first goal in an Ottawa uniform and Andrej Meszaros added his ninth of the season as the Senators (35-20-6) nursed a pair of one-goal leads but couldn't hold on to either of them.

In the shootout, Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire stopped Daniel Alfredsson and Antoine Vermette.

Meanwhile, Nash and Nikolai Zherdev were successful in their attempts against Senators goaltender Ray Emery before a sold-out Scotiabank Place crowd of 19,612.

"They're a team that works hard the whole 60 minutes and it goes both ways they don't score a lot of goals, but they don't give up a lot," Stillman said of Columbus, which picked up just its second win in the past seven contests and second all-time against Ottawa. "I think you saw that tonight.

"They battled right to the end. You let them hang in and they're going to grab a point and they ended up with two of them."

Sergei Fedorov had the other goal in regulation for the Blue Jackets and Leclaire finished with 27 saves.

Antoine Vermette added a pair of assists for the Senators, who have just one victory in their past five games. Emery stopped 22 shots.

The Blue Jackets shut down Ottawa's top line of Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, with Heatley registering their lone point - an assist on Meszaros' power-play marker. The trio has just two goals in its past five games, both belonging to Spezza.

Alfredsson still found positives in the Senators' performance and compared Columbus' approach to that of the defensive-minded New Jersey Devils.

"There's not going to be a lot of room," he said. "I thought we played well. I definitely like the way our game's going. In shootout anything can happen.

"It's really good to see the Vermette line playing well. I think our line played better, though, definitely in the third period."

The single point allowed the Senators to move one ahead of the Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins beat the Canadiens 5-4 on Thursday to keep Ottawa above the Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead with a game in hand. Pittsburgh plays host to the Senators on Saturday.

Ottawa lost right-winger Chris Neil when he limped off with an injury to his right leg after delivering a bodycheck in the first period. He didn't return and his status was not immediately known.

The Blue Jackets began the night in 12th place in the Western Conference, and slipped seven points back of the eighth-place Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver beat Nashville 3-2 in a shootout.

Columbus was playing the fourth game of a five-game road trip and, having opened its travels with a 5-1 victory over the league-leading Detroit Red Wings, found goals tough to come by in 5-1 and 3-1 losses to the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively.

Stillman scored on his own rebound just 35 seconds in for his first goal in five games since being acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 11.

Nash tied the game in the second and, after Meszaros restored the lead later in the period, Fedorov beat Emery to the short side with a slapshot from the left wing early in the third.

The Senators couldn't score during a power play in overtime, falling to 3-4 in shootouts this season.

The Blue Jackets improved to 3-6 in shootout.

"It would have been nice (for his goal) to be in a victory," Stillman said. "It was nice to score early in the game, but for our side, you try to be the difference late. When the game's tied, you want to try and score.

"We had opportunities to do it and their goalie made some saves, we missed the net a couple of times and it comes down to shootout. Then you're back to 50/50."

Notes: Blue Jackets centre Michael Peca, the subject of trade rumours ahead of Tuesday's deadline, was a healthy scratch. ... The Blue Jackets wrap up their road trip on Saturday at Montreal.

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Pascal Leclaire backstops Blue Jackets to 3-2 shootout win over Sens