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Buffalo at Columbus

Mason earns third shutout as Jackets blank Sabres

CBSSports.com wire reports
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Suddenly, hockey is a lot of fun for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Steve Mason stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Rick Nash and Raffi Torres scored against the NHL's top penalty-killing team, leading the Blue Jackets past the Buffalo Sabres, 4-0 on Saturday night.

In their second game -- and second win -- since Ken Hitchcock was replaced by assistant Claude Noel on Wednesday, the Blue Jackets looked loose and dominated from end to end.

"We're having some fun out there," forward R.J. Umberger said. "Guys are playing with a lot of jump and confidence."

Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist, and Milan Jurcina scored on a lucky bounce to snap an 87-game goal-less streak. Jakub Voracek tied a career high with three assists.

Mason, last season's Calder Trophy winner as the league's Rookie of the Year, won back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 17. His 13th career shutout gave him the Blue Jackets' franchise mark.

"I don't think it was the best game we've played," said Noel. "We can play a lot better than this," he said.

His players say they are letting go, not worrying about mistakes and just enjoying themselves on the ice. They hadn't won consecutive games since Oct. 10.

"We played two great games here," Stralman said. "We hope to keep continuing. What Claude has brought, he's spoken with us to try and relax and play the game we all know we can play."

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Sabres, who still retained first place in the Northeast Division. They came in killing 87.4 percent of opposing power plays.

Buffalo, playing its third game in four days, is just 2-7-1 since Jan. 19.

"The message is we have to put it behind us," coach Lindy Ruff said. "There have been games where we have played well and lost and games where there have been a lot of breakdowns and a lot of frustration. The message is we are a better team than we are playing right now."

It was the largest margin of victory by the Blue Jackets all season, and it came before a huge throng of visiting Buffalo fans who swelled attendance to 18,576.

"Obviously Buffalo had their share [of fans]," Mason said. "But our fans completely took over the game. It's always fun playing at home, to have the home-ice advantage for an extra while is going to be great. We just have to keep taking advantage of it."

The Blue Jackets did not get on the power play in Noel's debut on Thursday but had four opportunities in the second period against Buffalo, finally notching a goal on the very last one.

From the right goal line, Kristian Huselius saw Nash crashing the net and slid a quick backhanded pass. Nash, while being shadowed by mammoth (6-8, 222 pounds) defenseman Tyler Myers, had to dive and stretch forward to get his stick on the puck, jamming it into the net while falling to make it to 2-0.

The first goal was a total fluke. Jurcina, a defenseman acquired along with Chris Clark from Washington for Jason Chimera on Dec. 28, skated to mid-ice early in the second period. Barely across the center line, he dumped the puck into the right corner. It hugged the dasher and goalie Patrick Lalime turned to watch it go behind the net -- only it hit a seam in the boards and ricocheted wildly at him. Before he could react, the puck bounced off his skate and into the net.

"It is probably the first time I [have seen] the puck coming from behind the net that hard," Lalime said. "I knew the glass was bad, so I was looking up for it. It was like a shot from behind the net."

Jurcina didn't even know the puck went in.

"I was going for a change and I was on the way to the bench," he said. "I just heard the fans going crazy. Guys were looking at me and giving me high fives. I didn't know I scored until I got to the bench."

Notes

  • Nash hit the 25-goal mark for the sixth straight season.
  • The Sabres have also lost their last four road games.
  • Columbus improved to 7-2-1 in the series with Buffalo, including 3-0-1 at home.
  • The Blue Jackets had alternated wins and losses in their previous 10 games before winning their second in a row.
  • Columbus was 2 of 6 on the power play, Buffalo was 0 for 5.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Steve Mason blocks 28 shots in tallying his 13th career shutout, the most in team history.  (AP)
Steve Mason blocks 28 shots in tallying his 13th career shutout, the most in team history. (AP)

Scoreboard
Buffalo (32-18-7)0000
Columbus  (24-27-9) «0224
Three Stars
S. Mason
CLB


Saves: 28
Save Pct.: 1.000
J. Voracek
CLB


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 3
A. Stralman
CLB


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
02:17Milan Jurcina (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Vermette, Voracek
15:32Power Play - Rick Nash (25), Wrist Shot. Assist: Umberger, Huselius
3RD PERIOD
46.0Anton Stralman (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brassard, Voracek
02:09Power Play - Raffi Torres (16), Snap Shot. Assist: Voracek, Stralman
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
08:22Stralman, 2 min, Hooking
15:17Huselius, 2 min, Holding
2ND PERIOD
15.0Gaustad, 2 min, Slashing
02:49Montador, 5 min, Fighting
02:49Boll, 5 min, Fighting
11:16Rivet, 4 min, High-Sticking
14:55Lydman, 2 min, Holding
20:00Hejda, 2 min, Interference
3RD PERIOD
36.0Pominville, 2 min, High-Sticking
02:52Umberger, 5 min, Fighting
02:52Stafford, 5 min, Fighting
02:52Stafford, 2 min, Roughing
09:08Torres, 2 min, Tripping
13:01Roy, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Buffalo1061228
Columbus711725
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Patrick Lalime60:00214
Steve Mason60:00280
Game Information
Attendance - 18576
Referees - Kevin Pollock, David Banfield
Linesmen - Don Henderson, Mark Shewchyk
 
Other Games
SJ 4 Final
Nash 3
Car 3 Final
NYI 1
Pitt 3 Final
Mon 5
Phi 1 Final
Min 2
Pho 0 Final
Dal 4
Det 3 Final
LA 4
NJ 1 Final
NYR 3
Edm 0 Final
Colo 3
Cal 1 Final
OT
TB 2
Ott 0 Final
Tor 5
Chi 2 Final
StL 1
Van 3 Final
Bos 2
Fla 2 Final
Atl 4