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Blue Jackets end Detroit's streak at six

by John Kreiser
Steve Mason got healthy just in time to end Detroit's six-game winning streak.

Mason came off IR Friday after overcoming a case of mononucleosis and made 32 saves, including a number of superb stops in the final minutes after Jason Williams put Columbus ahead to stay with 6:55 left in regulation as the Blue Jackets held off the Red Wings 3-2.

"It's the best I've felt in a really long time," said Mason, who leads the NHL with seven shutouts and a 2.09 goals-against average. "I've a lot of pep back -- my attitude, my demeanor or whatever. I feel really good right now."

Mason's best save might have come with 38 seconds left when he slid laterally and stacked his pads to stop Henrik Zetterberg. In the final five seconds, Mason got to the post to stop a desperation shot by Marian Hossa, sending a Nationwide Arena-record crowd of 18,802 home happy.

"He's good. He's real good," said Detroit netminder Chris Osgood, a three-time Cup winner for the Red Wings. "He kind of reminds me of Tom Barrasso when he used to play. He's real agile and has quick reflexes and he's big. He doesn't just rely on his butterfly. He moves around and makes some big saves."

Williams, a former Red Wing, gave the Blue Jackets their third win in a row when he got the puck from Jake Voracek near the blue line, skated in from the right wing and beat Osgood inside the near post.

"It's always nice to score against your former team," said Williams, who broke in with the Red Wings in 2000-01 and played through the 2006-07 season, winning a Cup ring in 2002. "For that to be the game-winner, that's a little icing on the cake."

The win gives Columbus 59 points, the same amount as eighth-place Minnesota in the West. The Wild have played one fewer game.

"We need to play better and if we play better we're going to win a lot more games," Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Other people are stepping up -- that's really important for us. We are having other people contribute for us to win hockey games. The nice part is we can win hockey games without scoring from (Rick) Nash and (Kristian) Huselius."

The Wings, who beat Minnesota 4-2 at home on Thursday, looked a little sluggish at the start and the Blue Jackets took advantage. Chris Chelios' blind pass was intercepted by Michael Peca; he raced down left wing and dropped a pass for Raffi Torres, who beat Osgood from the left dot at 2:45.

Mason stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first period, but was beaten 3:25 into the second when Nicklas Lidstrom came out of the penalty box, took Pavel Datsyuk's pass and tucked the puck behind Mason's glove.

Jason Chimera put Columbus back in front at 7:21, beating Osgood after Voracek picked up the rebound of Kris Russell's shot and poked it to Chimera in the right circle. But Mikael Samuelsson beat Mason from the high slot 4:04 into the third period to get the Wings even again before Williams put them in front to stay.

"They've got a real good team," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They've got good balance and heavy bodies. And I thought Mason did a good job."

Panthers 2, Rangers 1 (SO) | Video

The Panthers are so hot they even beat the masters of the shootout. Richard Zednik scored the only goal in the breakaway competition and Tomas Vokoun stopped all four tries by the Rangers as Florida won for the second time in two nights and improved to 12-3-3 since the start of the new year.

Vokoun stopped Markus Naslund, Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan and Nikolai Zherdev in the tiebreaker. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped Cory Stillman, Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss before Zednik zipped a wrist shot past his glove on Florida's fourth attempt.

"We haven't had much luck in shootouts lately, so I thought I'd mix it up a little bit there and threw Richard in there," Florida coach Pete DeBoer said after using Zednik in the breakaway competition for the first time this season. "He's had a hot hand lately and he buried a big goal at a big time for us. He'll get another opportunity for sure."

It was only the third shootout win in nine tries for the Panthers; the Rangers have a League-leading nine in 13 tries.

"I've been lucky this year," Lundqvist said. "Our guys have been good this year scoring for us, and it's been a lot easier for me to shut the door and win the shootout. But tonight we had a tough time scoring."

Zednik's goal settled a goaltending duel that saw Lundqvist make 42 saves and Vokoun stop 34 shots.

Fredric Sjostrom gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead when he jammed home a rebound in the crease at 17:14 of the first period. Michael Frolik tied it 2:37 into the second period when he beat Lundqvist though the legs with a turnaround shot from the slot after Cory Stillman took the puck away from Michal Rozsival behind the net.

The Rangers fell to 1-4-2 in their last seven games and face Philadelphia at home on Sunday on national television.

"Right now we take what we can get," Lundqvist said. "We can't be satisfied with just one point. We definitely need the two-pointers. It's disappointing not to get it. The way the game played out in the third, it could have gone either way."

Stars 2, Canucks 1 | Video

Joel Lundqvist had a better night than his twin brother. He scored for the first time since last March 15 to put the surging Stars ahead to stay, and Marty Turco stopped 32 shots as Dallas snapped Vancouver's four-game winning streak.

Lundqvist broke a 1-1 tie with 3:33 left in the second period when he took a pass from Loui Eriksson and beat backup goalie Jason LaBarbera from the right circle. Turco, who started the play with a long breakout pass, earned his fourth assist of the season.

"I'm a forward. I should score goals," said Lundqvist, who's missed much of the season with shoulder injuries. "I haven't been able to find the net, so it's nice to finally get it. I don't even remember the feeling, but I do now. It was nice to get the first one because that's what hockey's all about."
"It's the best I've felt in a really long time. I've a lot of pep back -- my attitude, my demeanor or whatever. I feel really good right now." -- Columbus goalie Steve Mason
Turco, starting a franchise-record 25th consecutive game, preserved the lead with a glove save on Henrik Sedin's shot as time was about to expire in the period. He then made a sprawling stop on Ryan Kesler to end a power-play threat seconds into the third -- one of his 14 saves in the final period.

The Stars won for the eighth time in 10 games and improved to 14-3-1 in their last 18 home games. Dallas moved into fifth place in the West with 61 points; Vancouver is seventh with 60.

One reason for the surge has been the improved play of Turco, who has a 1.67 goals-against average in his last 12 games -- a far cry from earlier in the season when he was allowing well over three goals per game.

"The fundamentals of my game weren't where they needed to be early, and that is certainly something I have worked on a lot the last couple months," he said.

The night didn't start out well for him, though. Vancouver grabbed the lead 5:28 into the game when Taylor Pyatt beat Turco with a stoppable shot from the right circle.

But the Stars tied it at the 8-minute mark of the second period when Eriksson redirected Matt Niskanen's shot past LaBarbera seconds after a 5-on-3 power play expired.

"We came up flat in the second period, took a few penalties and got away from our game plan," Pyatt said. "That cost us the game."

LaBarbera was in net after Roberto Luongo played the previous nine games. He didn't show any rust despite the long layoff.

"I felt my movement was more sharp than it's been in the past," LaBarbera said. "This was huge for me. I sharpened some things up.

Blues 1, Blackhawks 0 | Video

Chris Mason continues to have Chicago's number, even if he won't admit it. Mason blanked the Hawks for the second consecutive time and made Brad Boyes' power-play goal 57 seconds into the third period stand up for the win.

"We've definitely played two great games against them as a team," said Mason, who also shut out the Blackhawks 2-0 on Jan. 21. "They're a good team, so I wouldn't go saying [I have their number] yet."

Mason finished with 22 saves to give the Blues a much-needed win after they blew two-goal leads in losing their previous two games -- including a 4-3 shootout loss at Nashville on Thursday in which the Predators tied the game with three seconds left in regulation.


SHOTS: 22 | SAVES: 22
SAVE PCT: 1.000 | GAA: 0.00

"I'm happy for the players," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "That was a pretty emotional game. There was a lot of energy. What we went through this week and to have the energy to play like we did tonight against a team that was practicing at our rink yesterday  afternoon and having lots of fun and having dinner while we were fighting a battle in Nashville last night, to find a way to win it, we found a way."

Boyes scored on a 4-on-3 power play, converting a one-timer from the left circle. Adam Burish was in the box for a slashing penalty at the end of the second period after offsetting roughing penalties on the Blues' Barret Jackman and the Blackhawks' Colin Fraser.

"They were able to get the puck through the box, and Boyes was just teeing off," Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet said. "I didn't see him."

The Hawks finished 5-3-0 on a marathon eight-game trip. They play Dallas at home on Saturday before heading out for three more games away from the United Center.

"Tonight, we didn't have enough players," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was tough to watch. But we still had a chance to tie it at the end. We've got to be better than that in all areas."

Canadiens 4, Avalanche 2 | Video

Andrei Kostitsyn's tie-breaking goal with 2:16 left in regulation turned Jaroslav Halak's heroics in goal into Montreal's first win in eight road games. After the Canadiens blew an early two-goal lead, Kostitsyn broke through the Avs' defense and pushed a shot under Peter Budaj's pads to snap a 2-2 tie.

Tom Kostopoulos added an empty-netter with 24.5 seconds left to give the Canadiens their first win at Denver since the Avs moved from Quebec to Colorado in 1995 -- they had been 0-5-1-1 since then -- and hand the reeling Avalanche their fourth consecutive loss.

Kostitsyn said he went back to basics against Budaj, against whom he's never had any success.

"I never got one by him before," Kostitsyn said. "I came in hard on the net, made a good move and got it past him. I got it past him."

That he did, much to Budaj's dismay.

"I didn't get it," Budaj said. "He put a good move on me and I didn't get it."

The Canadiens hadn't won on the road since beating Ottawa 5-4 in a shootout on Jan. 17. They wouldn't have won this one without the play of Halak, who stopped three breakaways and turned aside 18 shots during a third period in which Montreal was outshot 19-5.

"It wasn't easy, it wasn't nice, but we got two points," Halak said. "It was a tough game because they were shooting from everywhere."

Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois gave Montreal an early 2-0 lead by scoring 57 seconds apart late in the first period. But the Avs finally solved Halak when Jordan Leopold scored 5:46 into the second period, and Tyler Arnason tied it with a power-play goal with 7 minutes left in regulation.

It was another disappointment for the Avalanche, who've lost 14 of their last 20 games and dropped into last place in the Western Conference -- though they're still just eight points out of a playoff berth.
"What can you say? It's extremely disappointing," defenseman John-Michael Liles said. "If we put forth that effort each and every night, we'll put ourselves in a lot better position to win a lot of games."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

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