-- Wins have been few and far between for the Columbus Blue Jackets
, especially on the road. So there were plenty of smiles Thursday night after the two players the Jackets depend on most -- captain Rick Nash
and goalie Steve Mason
, came through with big performances.
Nash scored twice and Mason made 36 saves as the Blue Jackets ended a six-game losing streak by beating the Dallas Stars
4-1 on Thursday night for their first regulation win on the road this season. Columbus' last victory of any kind came on Dec. 13, when the Jackets beat Vancouver 2-1 in a shootout. They had been 0-4-2 since then.
"With all the things that have kind of backfired on us in the last few weeks here, that was a great 20-man effort," Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "It was a solid effort from everyone."
Nash opened the scoring at 3:50 of the opening period when he was left all alone and buried a 15-foot wrister into a half-empty net. He made it 3-1 at 6:09 of the final period, drilling a long wrister into the far side of the net for his 12th goal of the season. Nash's two-goal performance continued a history of success at the Stars' expense. In 32 career games against Dallas, he has 17 goals and 26 points.
But Nash was more interested in his team's accomplishments than his own.
"That's huge," Nash said of the win. "We've been starving for one of these regulation wins on the road and this is a tough building to come into against a team that has had a really good first three months of the season, so we're excited and happy with our efforts tonight."
Columbus also got a huge lift from a strong performance by Mason, who has struggled for most of the season.
"He was outstanding," Arniel said. "I thought he was good the other night at home and we didn't give him a lot of run support."
The game marked the first start for Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen
since Nov. 26. He stopped 25 shots after missing 12 games with a groin injury.
"Kari gave us exactly what we needed. I thought he looked like Kari and we just couldn't reward him by putting something in the net," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I was encouraged by his first game for sure."
Dallas (20-15-1, 41 points) got its lone goal at 8:57 of the opening period when Vernon Fiddler
knocked a rebound past Mason for his fifth of the season to tie the game at 1-1. The goal came less than a minute after Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley
's point-blank attempt at a tap-in hit the left post.
After heading to the first intermission tied 1-1, the visitors wasted little time in recapturing the lead in the second 20 minutes. Antoine Vermette
fired a rebound past Lehtonen at 2:10 to give Columbus a lead it would never relinquish.
After Nash's second goal, Fedor Tyutin
hit the empty net with two seconds left as the Jackets (10-22-5) became the last team in the League to reach double figures in victories this season.
Stars captain Brenden Morrow
left the ice 21 seconds into the final period with a lower-body injury after taking a puck to his left knee and did not return.
"I have no idea [what the prognosis is]," Morrow said. "I've sprained them before. I can't remember if I've ever taken a slap shot but I've had it bruised. I'm sure the training staff has dealt with these before. They didn't give me any indication or time frame."
Jackets rookie defenseman John Moore
finished the night with two assists, the first two helpers of his short NHL career.
The Jackets may need a lot more from Moore -- their top defenseman, James Wisniewski
, left at 7:38 of the second period after he was stuck by a Mike Ribeiro
"Right now, it looks like a broken ankle," Arniel said. "As soon as we get home, we'll check with our docs. It's not good right now."
Both clubs play Saturday night with Columbus hosting Washington while Dallas will host the reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins to close out 2011.