COLUMBUS, Ohio - The unlikeliest of players put a boost of confidence into a Columbus team teetering in its bid for its first playoff berth.
Christian Backman scored at 1:33 of overtime, and Dan LaCosta made 28 saves in his first NHL start to help the Blue Jackets snap a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
LaCosta, recalled Friday on an emergency basis, found out after the morning skate that he would start against the Western Conference-leading Sharks.
"I'm just happy," LaCosta said. "It couldn't have went any better tonight. That's one of the best teams in the league. We did a good job showing a lot of character in overtime."
Starter Steve Mason - second in the NHL with a 2.09 goals-against average - is sidelined by mononucleosis, and recently acquired backup Wade Dubliewicz sat out with the flu after losing 4-1 at Pittsburgh on Friday night
A third-round pick in 2004, LaCosta's only NHL game action was in two relief appearances. He allowed a combined two goals on 24 shots.
"It's definitely the highlight of my career for sure," LaCosta said.
LaCosta made the key stops, including one off his facemask on a close-range shot by Joe Thornton in overtime, then Backman scored the clutch goal.
The defenceman jammed home the puck from near the goal-line for his second of the season after a shot by R.J. Umberger crawled past Evgeni Nabokov. The two had skated in on a 2-on-1 rush.
"I was just thinking I can't miss that," said Backman, who has been a healthy scratch of late. "It was really important to bounce back after a couple losses and get back in the playoff race again."
San Jose's Christian Ehrhoff floated the puck from the left point past LaCosta - screened by two players - to tie it at two with 3:58 remaining.
"We had them on their heels," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of his team that has lost a season-high three straight games. "We knew they played the night before and we wanted to go after them."
Jason Williams and Rick Nash also scored for the Blue Jackets.
Ehrhoff added an assist, and Devin Setoguchi also scored for San Jose.
Columbus started fast and efficient, scoring on their first two shots to give LaCosta an early 2-0 cushion after the opening period.
"That kind of just let me loosen up there and just go out and play," LaCosta said. "I wasn't thinking that much after that."
Williams stole a clearing pass in the right slot from defenceman Alexei Semenov and roofed Columbus' first shot over the glove hand of Nabokov, who dropped to 27-6-6, at 1:46 for his 10th.
Nash took a breakaway pass from Kristian Huselius across the Sharks blue-line and beat an outstretched Nabokov with a low shot, just the Blue Jackets' second, at 9:33 for his 23rd and first in five games.
Umberger nearly scored late in the period on Columbus' third shot, but he couldn't convert on the short-handed breakaway.
"We played with a high level of emotion and intensity," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I liked the way we played the whole game. We managed the game the right way."
Setoguchi put San Jose on the board 54 seconds into the second period, wristing a shot alone in the slot for his 22nd, a power-play goal, and his first since Jan. 20.
"It was a good game overall by both teams," Setoguchi said. "We just came up short."
Notes: Columbus regulars RW Jakub Voracek (upper body injury), tied for fourth on the team in points, D Mike Commodore (food poisoning) and D Marc Methot (flu) did not play. ... San Jose has scored on the power play in six straight games. ... San Jose RW Mike Grier, an 11-year veteran, played his 900th career game. ... Huselius' assist on Nash's goal was the 200th of his career.