Columbus at Toronto

Nash caps shootout scoring to give coach Hitchcock 500th career win wire reports

TORONTO -- Their bodies tired and legs heavy from a brutal stretch of five games in seven nights, the Columbus Blue Jackets and captain Rick Nash found enough energy to keep their playoff push going.

They even made it a milestone night for their coach, too.

Nash scored late in the first, set up Kristian Huselius' tying goal in the third and then fired home the shootout winner as the Blue Jackets rallied past the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on Thursday, giving Ken Hitchcock his 500th career victory.

"When you get points like you do tonight, these are valuable points that are going to make a difference at the end because this was a game where we probably didn't play our best but we still won," Hitchcock said. "It was one of those nights where we had no legs yet we found a way to get two points."

R.J. Umberger also scored in regulation for the Blue Jackets, who improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven outings despite seeming to have little left in the tank after a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Wednesday.

The win fueled their drive for the franchise's first ever postseason berth -- they began the day sixth in the super-tight Western Conference -- and made Hitchcock just the 13th NHL coach to hit the 500-win plateau. He's 500-337-122, tying Toe Blake for 12th place on the career list.

"To help him get his 500th win tonight was definitely a good pat on the back for ourselves," said rookie sensation Steve Mason, who made 32 saves. "It was a good effort down the stretch."

Nik Antropov scored twice and Jamal Mayers added the other for the Maple Leafs, who lost for the fourth time in five games. They had a handful of good chances to score the winner in the third, but Mason kicked out his right leg to stop Jason Blake on a breakaway and then snagged a Mayers shot out of the air with his glove.

"It felt like it was our game in the second period," Antropov said, "but we weren't sharp enough in the third."

Rookie Justin Pogge, making back-to-back starts for first time in his career, played better than he did Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to Buffalo, but had a tough go in the shootout.

Jason Williams claimed to purposely fan on a shot that ended up sliding past Pogge to give Columbus an early lead. Jason Blake tied it, but Nash buried a no-doubter to put the pressure on Lee Stempniak, who fired wide to end it.

"It was a great trick shot," Nash said. "I wonder how he practices that one, but we'll take it."

Leafs coach Ron Wilson wasn't so sure the move was what Williams planned.

"Maybe he did. I don't know," Wilson said. "We should study that move, it's a great move."

The Blue Jackets tied things up 3-3 just 1:48 into the third when Huselius took Nash's pretty pass from behind the net in the slot and snapped it home. That swung the momentum toward Columbus, which spent much of the first 40 minutes sending passes into teammates' skates and having the puck dribble off their sticks.

"There's an analogy in war fighting that you fight and you march," Hitchcock said. "That's what we've had to do, we fight and we march."


  • This was just the seventh meeting ever between the teams. The Leafs went 4-0-1-1 through the first six meetings, including a 3-1 win exactly on year earlier.
  • Boyd Devereaux made his season debut for the Leafs. LW Brad May and G Curtis Joseph were healthy scratches.
  • RW Derek Dorsett and D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen were scratched for Columbus.
Copyright 2017 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.
After going four games without a goal, Rick Nash scores in two straight. (Getty Images)
After going four games without a goal, Rick Nash scores in two straight. (Getty Images)
Columbus  (30-23-6) «11101 (2)4
Toronto (21-26-11)12000 (1)3
Three Stars
R. Nash

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
N. Antropov

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
R. Umberger

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
12:39Power Play - Nik Antropov (19), Snap Shot. Assist: Kubina, Ponikarovsky
19:59Rick Nash (25), Snap Shot. Assist: Huselius, Malhotra
11:42R.J. Umberger (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Voracek, Williams
14:09Jamal Mayers (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Blake, Moore
18:03Nik Antropov (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ponikarovsky, Stajan
01:38Kristian Huselius (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Nash, Malhotra
 Jason Williams (2), GOAL
 Jason Blake (3), GOAL
 Rick Nash (3), GOAL
Penalty Summary
29.0Stajan, 2 min, Tripping
08:37Backman, 2 min, Interference
12:27Hejda, 2 min, Interference
02:34Novotny, 2 min, Interference
12:55Schenn, 5 min, Fighting
12:55Boll, 5 min, Fighting
18:26Methot, 2 min, Tripping
02:16Methot, 2 min, Roughing
03:27Moore, 2 min, Interference
Shots On Goal
Steve Mason 65:0032331
Justin Pogge 64:4331322
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Game Information
Attendance - 19179
Referees - Don Van Massenhoven, Dan O'Rourke
Linesmen - Brad Kovachik, Mark Shewchyk
Other Games
Atl 3 Final
Pho 4
StL 2 Final
Nash 1
Van 5 Final
Ott 2
NJ 3 Final
TB 2
Edm 2 Final
Dal 4
LA 2 Final
SJ 4
Cal 3 Final
Min 2
Chi 4 Final
Fla 0
Car 6 Final
Mon 4 Final
Pitt 5
Buf 3 Final
Phi 6