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Jackets edge Hurricanes 3-2

by Kurt Dusterberg
RALEIGH -- The Columbus Blue Jackets' biggest problem is an enviable one. With the preseason over, they have plenty of talented players in contention for roster spots.

Martin St. Pierre added his name to the growing list of roster candidates when he scored on a backhander with 8:25 left in regulation to lift the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

For St. Pierre, who has played 38 NHL games in stints with Boston, Chicago and Ottawa, the goal was his first of the preseason. He was playing in just his second game after battling through injuries.

St. Pierre is on a two-way contract, but for now he's just happy to have another shot in the NHL after playing for three European teams last season.

"It keeps me motivated and not take things for granted," said St. Pierre, who played in the Edmonton organization when Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson was the assistant GM.  I kind of like it that way. It's always nice to prove yourself."

Columbus lost forward Jared Boll with an apparent broken thumb, the result of a third-period fight with Carolina defenseman Bryan Allen. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said Boll would be evaluated Saturday to determine how much time he will miss.

Columbus trailed 2-1 in the third period before tying the game with 12:21 to play. Cam Atkinson caught Cam Ward out of the net, then centered a pass from behind the goal line to R.J. Umberger, who fired a wrister into an open net.

The Hurricanes had taken a 2-1 lead 2:28 into the period when Anthony Stewart backhanded a pass from behind the Columbus net to Pat Dwyer, who beat a sprawling Steve Mason with his second whack at the puck.

Mason stopped 35 shots for the win one night after making 32 stops in a 4-2 home win against Minnesota. His best saves against Carolina came against Jeff Skinner, who had a pair of  close-range opportunities.

"He was there to make the stops when we needed him," Arniel said. "He seems very calm and very confident. That's a good way to be coming out of training camp."

Mason is trying to regain the form he showed in 2008-09 when he won 33 games for Columbus and earned the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie.

"I feel really good right now," Mason said. "They're only preseason games, but they're important games for our players to make sure we go into the season feeling good."

After a scoreless first period, Carolina got on the board in the second period when Jussi Jokinen scored at 5:11 during a 5-on-3 play. The Blue Jackets had killed off 1:32 of the two-man advantage when Joni Pitkanen found Jokinen with a cross-ice pass and Jokinen beat Mason from the right circle. It was Carolina's first power-play goal of the preseason after 13 attempts. The Hurricanes finished the night 1-for 5 on the power play.

Columbus tied the score at 11:36 when Alexandre Giroux one-timed a rebound.  Cam Ward kicked out a Grant Clitsome shot onto the stick of Giroux, who buried his second goal of the preseason. Rookie Tomas Kubalik also earned an assist, his third in two games.

Ward finished with 30 saves and looked sharp despite surrendering three goals after allowing just one in five periods during his first two appearances.

The Hurricanes fell to 1-4-0 in the preseason and have scored just 10 goals in five games.

"I wouldn't take the game tonight as an assessment of where we want to get to," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "The speed we were moving at when we were trying to execute things was a little slow. We're not as sharp as we need to be in a week."
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