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Weekes and Mason make most of unexpected roles @NHL

Kevin Weekes went from backup to starter, and Steve Mason took a sudden jump from the minors to his NHL debut on what was supposed to be a quiet night of hockey.

With only three games on Wednesday, Weekes assumed his place in goal for the New Jersey Devils one day after news broke that No. 1 netminder Martin Brodeur would be out several months because of an elbow injury.

Weekes' second start since Brodeur's mishap last Saturday turned into a much-needed win for the Devils, who beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout at home.

After allowing a shootout goal to Vincent Lecavalier, Weekes stopped Jussi Jokinen and Vaclav Prospal to lift the Devils to their second win in six games. Weekes is expected to be the Devils' primary goalie in place of Brodeur, who will be sidelined until at least February after tearing a biceps tendon in his left elbow last weekend.

"Obviously, the best goalie in the world is no longer here right now," said Weekes, who made 24 saves before the tiebreaker. "We certainly miss him, but our strength is in numbers. We have to continue to believe in that."

While Weekes has spent time as a starting goalie in the NHL, the 20-year-old Mason was thrust into action as a surprise emergency fill-in for the Columbus Blue Jackets. His night also turned out well with a 5-4 home victory over the well-traveled Edmonton Oilers.

Manny Malhotra tipped in a rebound with 1:09 left, making the prized prospect a winner in his first game.

"At the stoppage of play I looked up and saw there was 1:09 on the board," said Mason, who made 22 saves in only his fourth professional start. "That was probably the longest 1:09 of my life."

In the only other NHL game Wednesday night, Anaheim beat St. Louis 5-2.

Mason was recalled Tuesday from Syracuse of the AHL, where he was 2-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average. He got his big break Wednesday because top goalie Pascal Leclaire is out with an ankle injury, and backup Fredrik Norrena hurt his groin during the morning skate hours before the opening faceoff.

"First game, hard circumstances - (he did) OK," Blue Jackets 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."

The Devils are used to seeing Brodeur behind them in goal for upward of 70 games each season. Now they hope they can stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race long enough for him to carry them the rest of the way once he returns.

Jokinen scored twice for Tampa Bay, and Martin St. Louis tied it late in the third period, but the Lightning's three-game winning streak ended.

"We battled back in the last two games," Jokinen said. "That's the sign of a good hockey team. I think the first and third periods were very good hockey for us."

David Clarkson, Patrik Elias and Jay Pandolfo scored in regulation, and Elias and captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the shootout for the Devils.

"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."

The same could be said for the young Mason. The Blue Jackets let a 2-0 lead slip away and then rallied from a 4-2 deficit.

In addition to Malhotra's late winner, Kristian Huselius, Derek Brassard, R.J. Umberger and Fredrik Modin scored for Columbus. Mike Commodore, Jake Voracek, Rick Nash and Raffi Torres each had two assists.

Umberger hadn't scored in his first nine games, but now has four in the last three.

Andrew Cogliano, Ethan Moreau, Ales Hemsky and Kyle Brodziak had goals for the Oilers, who are in the midst of a season-high, seven-game road trip. Tom Gilbert had two assists.

"It's a painful, painful lesson," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "There's a right way to play this game and a wrong way to play it and we got on the wrong side of it early. It looked like we were going to get away with it, but we didn't."

At Anaheim, Calif., Ryan Getzlaf scored two goals, including a 190-foot shot into an empty net, and Jonas Hiller made 31 saves in the Ducks' home win over St. Louis.

Rob Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry also scored for Anaheim, which has earned 17 of a possible 18 points in its last nine games (8-0-1).

Selanne has eight goals and five assists during an eight-game point streak. Getzlaf matched that run, posting six goals and 11 assists in eight games.

Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald scored for the Blues and Chris Mason made 21 saves in the first of a five-game road trip. St. Louis is 1-5 after a 4-1 start.

Paul Kariya, the Blues' leading scorer, left in the second period with an undisclosed lower body injury and didn't return.

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