Mason, Blue Jackets seek another shutout against Wild

Minnesota (20-17-3) at Columbus (19-18-4),

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) — Rookie netminder Steve Mason
apparently can remain impenetrable even without his team’s lone
All-Star in the lineup.

Looking to build off yet another shutout, Mason and the Columbus
Blue Jackets will likely be without captain Rick Nash again when
they host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Without the support of Nash, Mason took matters into his own
hands and made 45 saves as the Blue Jackets halted a two-game
losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on

Mason turned aside 18 shots in each of the first and third
periods while making nine saves in the second en route to his
league-leading sixth shutout of the season. The 20-year-old was
named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month in both November and

Washington outshot Columbus, 45-23, overall – and by an 18-4
margin in the opening session – but could not solve Mason, who
has allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of his last 19 starts. He
has yielded only one even-strength tally in his past seven

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Such production is a major reason why the Blue Jackets have
remained in the Western Conference playoff picture. In order to
continue their strong play, they will have to solve the league’s
strongest defensive team without Nash, who sprained his right
knee in the first period of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Detroit
Red Wings.

The Wild have yielded an NHL-low 90 goals, but are coming off a
3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

In that contest, All-Star netminder Niklas Backstrom stretched
his shutout streak to 149 minutes, 9 seconds before the Flyers
scored in the second period.