COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ No one is running away with the NHL goal-scoring
title, but it isn't for lack of effort.
``Jeez, we're all trying,'' Rick Nash cracked after scoring his 39th goal in
the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
``It's one of those things where I'm here, I might as well go for it.''
Nash moved into a tie for the goals lead with Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk _ a
fact that surprised the 19-year-old, second-year star.
``I didn't really expect it. I didn't really think I would be this close
this far in the season,'' he said. ``Obviously, guys are going on streaks where
they score two or three and then they go three or four games without. It's kind
of nice that Kovalchuk hasn't run away with it and hasn't scored in a while.''
Marc Denis stopped 20 shots in his fifth shutout of the season _ tying the
franchise record _ and the 14th of his career. He was seldom tested by the
Wild, who have lost three games in a row.
``We came out flat and never could recover,'' Minnesota coach Jacques
Lemaire said. ``We had power plays one after the other. One time it was a
five-minute power play _ and we couldn't generate nothing. We couldn't get a
shot when it was time to make a shot, couldn't make the pass when it was time
to make the pass.''
Aaron Johnson scored his second goal of the season for the Blue Jackets, who
have won two in a row since dropping eight straight.
Johnson, a 20-year-old rookie, has roomed with Nash since coming up to the
big club last month.
``Maybe it's the water,'' Nash said with a laugh.
Nash scored from a hard angle at the right boards at the close of the second
period. Minnesota goaltender Dwayne Roloson was tight to the near post but it
appeared he mishandled the puck with his glove and pulled the puck into the
``It was a lucky goal,'' Columbus interim coach Gerard Gallant said. ``We
just talked about getting the puck to the net and shooting it. Fortunately, he
got a lucky break. It was a big goal for our team.''
The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead after weathering four consecutive Minnesota
power plays in the first 28 minutes.
David Vyborny tossed a centering pass through the slot after skating behind
the net. Roloson stopped Andrew Cassels' point-blank shot, but the rebound
glanced to Johnson who jammed in a one-timer.
``I was just trying to get the shot up,'' said Johnson, who said he doesn't
pay rent to Nash but does clean the house to earn his keep. ``I knew he was
down looking for the rebound, so I just tried to get it up as high as I
The closest the Wild came to scoring was when Richard Park hit the post from
the right dot just before Johnson's goal.
Minnesota seldom even mustered a shot on eight power-play chances. It marked
the ninth time this season that the Wild were shut out.
``We needed this one. We take a lot of pride in our home record. It was good
for the fans,'' Denis said. ``It was a textbook effort on our part.''
Just 5:17 in, Denis mishandled a shot by Alexandre Daigle and the puck
squirted behind the Columbus goalie. But Denis recovered in time to fall on the
puck with his glove as it slid close to the goal line.
Lemaire was asked if his team could take anything positive out of the loss.
``Nothing,'' he said gruffly. ``Absolutely nothing.''