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Power Play Cashes in at the Right Time

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets' Rick Nash celebrates with Anton Stralman after Nash scores a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Monday, Dec 6, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. Blue Jackets won 3-2 in a shootout.

(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

Over the course of a grueling 82-game schedule, every team will go through lapses and skids.

The same applies to special teams - good teams score power-play goals in crunch time.

It wasn't the prettiest of games against the Dallas Stars, nor was it the worst possible result. Mired in a five-game winless skid, the Blue Jackets accomplished what all good teams do: they found a way to win.

Their 3-2 shootout victory at Nationwide Arena was a fitting tonic to end a difficult stretch, going 0-4-1 in the previous five games. Getting back to doing the simple things was a focal point for the coaches, as the team heads into another important stretch of games.

"We had to stop the bleeding before we go into St. Louis,” Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel said.

Most importantly, they found a way to keep the game alive.

"We had to get to the overtime," Arniel continued. "That was a big two points that we needed. I like the way we played tonight."

Trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Columbus put a string of several effective shifts together and had the Stars backing up.

Rick Nash put on a puck-protection clinic on a couple occasions down the stretch, and appeared to draw a penalty but the call was not made.

But then they got an opportunity.

R.J. Umberger barnstormed his way to into the offensive zone and disrupted Dallas defenseman Karlis Skrastins. The Latvian blueliner grabbed a hold of Umberger's arm, dragging him to the ice. The referee's arm went up, signaling the chance.

With goaltender Mathieu Garon on the bench for the extra attacker, Nash potted his team-leading 14th goal of the season with 46.1 seconds left in regulation.

Watch the Goal on Jackets TV

Rather than feeling like an exhale, the players saw the captain's power-play tally as a big boost.

"It's exactly what we needed as a team," Garon said.

"Our power play got us a big goal and our captain stepped up at the end. I think we needed that kind of emotion and obviously we got it tonight."

Listen to the goal call from George Matthews - Rick Nash Goal vs Dallas Stars - Dec. 6, 2010

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