The Columbus Blue Jackets had to work a little extra for the 300th victory in franchise history.
After three scoreless rounds Vermette slid a backhander between the pads of third-string goalieJoey MacDonald, who came on in the first period after Jimmy Howard was sidelined by a bruised knee. Mason then stopped Johan Franzen for the win.
"I saw a few guys go in with a shooting approach," Vermette said. "I thought maybe I'd try something else and try to make the move side-to-side and open up his legs and slide it through the five-hole."
The Jackets, now in their 10th season, have a record of 300-380-102 since entering the NHL in 2000.
Jakub Voracek and Grant Clitsome scored in regulation for Columbus and Mason stopped 26 shots through 65 minutes to help the Jackets end a five-game losing streak and win the opener of a home-and-home series. The teams meet again Saturday night in Detroit.
"We wanted to stop the bleeding," Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We had lost a number of games and had to find a way to get back into the win column. That game there wasn't for the faint of heart. As coaches, players and fans it was a fun one to be a part of, right to the very end. I liked our effort. I liked a lot of the things we did out there."
"That's just the way it goes sometimes," coach Mike Babcock said. "You get injuries and you just have to fight through them."
The Red Wings, who entered the game leading the NHL with 149 goals, have tormented Columbus since it came into the league. The Blue Jackets are just 16-35-9 in the series.
The Wings had a disastrous first period -- first falling behind by two goals, then losing their starting goaltender. Howard blocked a shot by Derick Brassard with 7:17 left in the opening period. He leaned down with his blocker, his legs folded underneath him, and fell to the ice. He lay there for several minutes before he was gingerly helped to the dressing room. The team said via Twitter saying Howard had bruised a knee and was day-to-day.
With backup Chris Osgood out after sports hernia surgery, MacDonald came on and stopped all 21 shots he faced, giving the Wings a chance to get back in the game.
"I thought Joey did a good job," Babcock said. "Obviously we were down; he did a good job. I thought we pressed them real hard in the third period and weren't able to get it done in overtime, but we should have had our opportunities and that's life."
Howard left after the Blue Jackets had grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Nash's shot from the top of the right circle was deflected wide of the goal off the stick of Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. The puck caromed to the other side of the goal where Voracek beat defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to the puck and slammed it in for his ninth of the season at 4:05
Columbus needed almost all of a long 5-on-3 power play, but with just 2 seconds left in the two-man advantage, Howard got a glove on Clitsome's one-timer from the right point but couldn't hold it. The puck flipped over his head and into the net at 11:51.
Miller scored a shorthanded goal at 5:14 of the second period to cut the deficit in half, and Hudler tied it at 8:05 when he converted Valtteri Filppula's pass after forcing a turnover.
"I would have like to have responded when the puck dropped instead of after the first period so you aren't down," Babcock said. "We didn't skate very well in the first period, and skated better as the game went on."
Mason knew that once the game was tied, the pressure was on him not to give up a third goal.
"Going into the third period I knew I had to shut the door," he said. "Obviously, to give up two in the second period was tough for the team, considering the first period we had. I think the guys in the locker room were pretty disappointed the way we came out in the second. We have been giving up short handed goals and we can't be doing that.
"Coming into the third period, the guys got back to playing like we did in the first and we put the pressure on them and got the win in the shootout, which was nice. It's a big two points for us."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report