COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The maturation of Rick Nash continues at a frightfully
The second-year forward had a goal and an assist to lead the Columbus Blue
Jackets past Anaheim 2-1 Tuesday night.
"It's a big win. We've been hurting lately with all the injuries," Nash
said. "It's nice to see some kids stepping up. Those two points are just
really big right now."
Among the "kids" the 19-year-old Nash was referring to was another
19-year-old, acclaimed Russian forward Nikolai Zherdev. He made his NHL debut
after flying out of his homeland on Sunday and arriving in Columbus on Monday
"He caught on after a while," Blue Jackets coach and general manager Doug
MacLean said. "He had tremendous speed at times and made some great plays."
David Vyborny also had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who had
lost two straight.
The Mighty Ducks' 11-game point streak was snapped. The last time they
failed to earn a point was Nov. 2 at Chicago.
"We have to look at our preparation and our urgency," coach Mike Babcock
said. "We didn't skate and didn't manage the puck and didn't come out and go
after the other team.
"Anytime you take more penalties than the other team -- even though I really
thought we really got jobbed on one -- that usually means they're on you more
than you're on them."
Vaclav Prospal scored with 31.9 seconds left -- and goaltender Martin Gerber
off for an extra skater -- for the only goal against Columbus' Marc Denis.
Nash, who had 17 goals as a rookie last season in 74 games, scored his 16th
this season in 24 games. The No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft ran his point streak
to six games (6 goals, 2 assists).
MacLean simply called Nash "our big man."
Zherdev, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, joined the team for
its morning skate. He was wildly cheered when he came on 40 seconds into the
game. His first shot was blocked by a defenseman just 59 seconds into his NHL
Late in the game, Zherdev was on a two-on-one rush and waited patiently
before shooting as he closed in on Gerber, who made the save.
"I had a great chance to score a goal but I think I made the mistake
myself," Zherdev said through an interpreter in the crowded dressing room. "I
felt comfortable today. In this rink I thought there would be more problems for
me because of the small ice, but it was OK. I was a little bit tired."
Zherdev played 13 shifts and had 10:59 of ice time.
Anaheim had tied an NHL record by going to overtime in its last five road
games. Denis -- and a pair of power-play goals -- made sure the Mighty Ducks
didn't survive regulation.
Pulled after giving up four goals in his last start, Denis was not supposed
to start against Anaheim. He got the last-minute call when Fred Brathwaite came
down with the flu.
"It feels great to bounce back," Denis said. "As of late, to my liking,
there's been too much bouncing-back to do. I'd like to be more consistent."
The Mighty Ducks had numerous scoring chances in the first two periods, but
the Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead.
Nash slipped a defender and fed Derrick Walser at the point for a one-timer.
The puck was deflected by Gerber, but bounced to Vyborny for an easy putback.
Vyborny's 10th goal came at 6:20 of the second period.
"He was in my territory and I told him to stay out of there because that's
where I get my goals," Nash said with a laugh. "I'll let him have that one
and we'll talk about it tomorrow in practice."
Nash then scored 3:18 into the third, taking a perfect cross-crease pass
from Vyborny to easily beat Gerber.
It was Gerber who had given the Blue Jackets the man advantage. He was given
a minor penalty for stuffing his blocker into the throat of Columbus' Tyler
Denis, who had 30 saves, made several big stops. None was better than when
he dived to his right and sprawled to block Prospal's jam shot off a backdoor
pass from Petr Sykora at 15:45 of the second period.
"We just shut down a pretty good offensive team there," Denis said,
shaking his head.