Mason, Blue Jackets shut out Flyers

By Dave Holstein
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) — It only took eight years but the
Columbus Blue Jackets have finally defeated every team in the

Defenseman Jan Hejda and Andrew Murray scored first-period goals
and rookie goaltender Steve

Mason finished with 20 saves for his third career shutout as the
Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0, on

“The players feel like if we have a lead going into the third
period, the other players feel like Mason will not get scored
on,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s the confidence
we have right now with him.”

“It was tough to stay sharp with the way our guys were playing
the majority of the game in their end,” Mason said. “Obviously
the win is nice but you can’t really sit on it. At the end of
the game, it is only one game.”

The Flyers had been the only team that Columbus had yet to
defeat since joining the NHL in 2000. The Blue Jackets had been
0-4-3 before Saturday’s win, which was also the first shutout
loss for the Flyers this season.

Mason turned aside five shots in the first period, 11 in the
second and four in the third to secure the shutout.

Hejda opened the scoring just 3:22 for Columbus early in the
first period. Derek Dorsett attempted a wraparound and, after
the puck was cleared out of the crease by defenseman Ossi
Vaananen, Hejda slipped a wrist shot past Antero Niittymaki.

“It was nice to get one through,” Hejda said. “A lot of my
shots get blocked, so it was nice to finally get one through and

It was only the second goal of the season for Hejda, who scored
24 games ago against Colorado on October 30.

The goal was the first for the Blue Jackets in over 6 1/2
periods. Their last goal was by captain Rick Nash with 2:46
left in a game in Dallas on December 18. Columbus was then shut
out in consecutive games by Phoenix and Los Angeles.

“If we get a lead on teams, we are really difficult to play
against,” Hitchcock said. “Teams don’t come back on us. We are
a frustrating team to play against because every player on this
team know how to check and how to check properly – and when we
do it, we are pretty effective.”

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Columbus doubled its advantage after Murray netted a power-play
tally with 1:52 remaining in the session. Defenseman Kris
Russell was behind the net and put the puck in front where
former Flyer R.J. Umberger put a shot on goal. Murray buried
the rebound to double the advantage.

“It was just one of those goals where you are around the net and
sometimes you get rewarded,” Murray said. “Russell and Umberger
worked hard down low to get the puck in front and I was
fortunate enough to bury it.”

Umberger was facing his former team for the first time since
joining Columbus via trade during the NHL draft on June 20.

Manny Malhotra extended the lead to 3-0 when he scored 7:29 into
the second period. Malhotra received a pass from Nash and
skated in alone, putting a wrist shot past the glove of
Niittymaki from the right slot.

“A great job by both Kristian (Huselius) and Rick (Nash),”
Malhotra said. “First of all, ‘Juice’ (Huselius) causing the
turnover in the neutral zone and Rick throwing a great pass to
lead me. I just went in and put it high, they did a great job
to set it up.”

Due to ice in Chicago, the Flyers did not arrive in Columbus
until early afternoon and missed their morning skate for the
second day in a row.

“Travel is tough. Chicago is a good team, they have only lost
one game at home all year,” Philadelphia coach John Stevens
said. “Tonight was a little better, but still not the level we
have been playing at. You’re coming on the road here, teams are
ready. They are not going to take you lightly because of where
we are in the standings. We can’t make excuses right now, we
have got to regroup and tighten up and do the little things

“It affects different guys in different ways,” defenseman
Braydon Coburn said. “It’s more mental than it is physical when
you’re faced with a little break in the routine like that.”

Columbus improved to 6-1-1 against the Eastern Conference this

Niittymaki finished with 30 saves for Philadelphia.