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Mason wins NHL debut

by Brian Compton and John Kreiser /
A few thoughts while Barry Melrose picks up some postcards in Newark:

Worth the wait — To most of us, 69 seconds isn't very long — you may be able to read this entire story in that time. To Columbus' Steve Mason, the last 69 seconds of the Blue Jackets' 5-4 win against Edmonton seemed to go on forever.

Manny Malholtra's first goal of the season with 1:09 left in regulation put the Jackets ahead. Then it was up to the prized 20-year-old prospect to close things out.

"At the stoppage of play I looked up and saw there was 1:09 on the board," Mason said. "That was probably the longest 1:09 of my life."

Mason had 22 saves in his fourth professional start and first in the NHL. He got the call because top goalie Pascal Leclaire is out with an ankle injury and backup Fredrik Norrena hurt his groin during the morning skate.

It wasn't a thing of beauty — the Jackets blew an early 2-0 lead — but it was a win.

"First game, hard circumstances — (he did) OK," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He didn't know he was playing. He's like a lot of our young guys — it's on-the-job training right now.

"I think he learned how good the NHL is and the shooters. Good lessons and we'll move forward with it. He made a couple of big saves on the penalty kill. He's another young guy that's a great asset for us."

Frustration — It was a perfect setup for Tampa Bay: a chance to play an injury-riddled New Jersey team without Martin Brodeur, who's out for at least 3 months after surgery to repair a torn bicep tendon in his left elbow.

But the Lightning still couldn't get the 2 points. Kevin Weekes, the Devils' new No. 1 goaltender, stopped 24 shots and made 2 saves in the shootout to give the Devils a 4-3 victory against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

The lost point left Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose with a sour taste after his team's 3-game winning streak ended.

"We had a golden opportunity to get 2 points out of here and we didn't," Melrose said. "I'm not happy about that. This game was not as good as the ones we played previously, but we got a point."

Tampa Bay got 2 goals from Jussi Jokinen and a game-tying power-play goal by Martin St. Louis with 3:20 left in regulation. It looked like they would win when Vincent Lecavalier scored in the first round of the shootout and Mike Smith stopped Zach Parise.

But Jokinen, with 18 career shootout goals, couldn't beat Weekes in Round 2. Patrik Elias tied it by beating Smith. Weekes came up big again against Vaclav Prospal before Jamie Langenbrunner deked Smith to the ice and tucked in a forehand for the winning goal.

Weekes' shootout heroics should help him accumulate some believers in the locker room.

"Everybody is talking about Marty being down," Elias said. "In here, we have to focus on what we have. Weekes has done a great job the last couple of games. Even when they scored first on the shootout, he stayed with it. That showed good poise on his part."

Rolling right along -- Can anyone stop the Anaheim Ducks?
For now, the answer appears to be no.
Anaheim extended its points streak to 9 games Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues at the Honda Center. Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have been major contributors, as the trio combined for 10 goals and 18 assists just last week alone.
After a slow start, the Ducks are now 8-0-1 in their last 9 games. The biggest reason for their recent success? Work ethic.
"It's all work. When you do it correctly and do the right things, like going to the net and getting the puck in the corner and digging around, it starts clicking. That's the key, doing your small jobs," said Chris Kunitz, who assisted on second-period goals by Perry and Getzlaf that gave the Ducks a 4-2 lead.
Getzlaf is doing everything right these days. With 3 more points Wednesday night, he is now tied with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin for the most points (18) in the NHL.
"It's a matter of things clicking right now, and we have to continue playing the way we are," Getzlaf said.

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

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