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Nash's four points help Jackets past slumping Wild

by Corey Masisak
Antoine Vermette pounced on a turnover in front of the Minnesota net and scored with 33.5 seconds left in overtime to five the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory against the Wild on Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.

Rick Nash broke out of a slump by scoring twice and adding a pair of assists for the Blue Jackets, who won for just the second time in 10 games this month (2-4-4). Mikko Koivu and John Madden had two points each for the Wild, who lost for the fifth straight game as their playoff hopes continue to fade.

"It just seems like it was going in today," Nash said. "I've been getting a ton of chances. I've been hitting some posts and hitting some chests of goalies, but tonight it went in."

The Wild rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the final 5:07 of regulation to force overtime. But Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns fanned on a pass from behind his own net. The puck glanced off a player in front of the Wild net and came right to Vermette, who beat Niklas Backstrom for his 17th goal of the season.

"All those pucks have been hitting sticks and crossbars and goalie's back ends," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "Finally a misplay by them and we were fortunate enough to have guys there ready to bury it."

The single point gives the Wild 78, five behind eighth-place Calgary going into a home game against Montreal on Sunday. Columbus, which hosts New Jersey on Sunday, has 76.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard forced overtime with 2:03 left in regulation. Jared Spurgeon put a shot on goal from the right point and Bouchard was there at the edge of the crease to scoop the rebound into the net for his ninth goal of the season.

"I think pretty much the whole overtime we were pushing and finding scoring opportunities," Wild forward Antti Miettinen said. "Unfortunately a mistake ends up in our net. Not a good way to finish the game."

Jan Hejda gave Columbus the lead 4:17 into the third period. Nash sent a shot from the goal line in the right corner, but the puck came right back to him. He sent it to the right point, where Hejda was waiting to blast a shot that beat Backstrom through the legs.

Nash made it a two-goal lead at 13:40. Derick Brassard found Nash as the trailer on a 3-on-2 rush and he beat Backstrom for his 31st of the season.

Miettinen got Minnesota back within a goal 73 seconds later. He found a soft spot in the middle of the defense and Nick Schultz fed him for his 12th goal of the season.

Nash ended a career-high 11-game goalless drought and put Columbus on the board first at 12:42 of the first period. Derek Dorsett sent a pass from the left wall to Nash, who was open cutting through the middle of the offensive zone.

It was Nash's 30th goal of the season, giving him four straight seasons with at least that many and six 30-goal campaigns in his career.

Minnesota's Brad Staubitz ended a much longer drought to even the score 1:50 later. Madden made a pretty backhanded pass during a 3-on-2 rush to create an easy one-timer for Staubitz, who scored for the first time in 80 games.

Cal Clutterbuck put the Wild in front at 6:25 of the second period when he one-timed a feed from Koivu past Columbus goaltender Mathieu Garon for his 19th goal of the season. Clutterbuck has scored in each of the Wild's four games against the Blue Jackets this season.

Kris Russell leveled the score with 55.8 seconds left in the second. Nash whiffed on a shot just to the right of Backstrom, but the puck came to Sami Lepisto (three assists) at the left point and he sent it across the top of the zone to Russell for a 4-on-4 goal.

"You know that it was two teams that were desperate for two points and were going to throw everything at each other," Arniel said. "That's probably what opened things up a little bit."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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