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Jackets clinch first playoff berth, edge Blackhawks

CHICAGO (AP) -- Rick Nash put Columbus in the playoffs for the

first time, and Fedor Tyutin capped the Blue Jackets' big night

with the shootout winner.

After Nash scored a late goal to force overtime and give the

Blue Jackets the final point they needed to clinch a playoff

spot, Tyutin scored the lone goal in the shootout in Columbus'

4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Columbus, which entered the NHL in 2000-01, was the only active

team that hadn't made the playoffs. Against Chicago, the Blue

Jackets overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.

Nash scored his 39th goal with 5:30 left in regulation to tie it

at 3 and set up overtime. Antoine Vermette also scored and

assisted on Jason Williams' goal in regulation.

The Blue Jackets earned the one point they needed to qualify for

the playoffs by reaching overtime.

"To get that one point was huge, to come back after being down

2-0," Nash said. "To get the win was even more important.

We're going to try to win these last two games to keep our

position in the standings. I don't know if it's quite sunk in

yet. We're so used to playing out the season."

For the Blue Jackets, the milestone had additional meaning.

John H. McConnell, the Blue Jackets' founder and majority owner,

died in April 2008 at age 84.

"It's great," Nash said. "We did it for ourselves, but most of

all we did it for Mr. Mac. We know he's up there watching. I'm

sure he's sitting in his chair and has a cigar in his mouth."

"I'm proud of the guys," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I

wasn't happy about the first period. I thought we were light on

the puck. In the second and third period, we came back and

managed the play."

After Nash tied it with what Hitchcock called "the biggest goal

in the history of the franchise," Hitchcock called on an

unlikely shooter in Tyutin as his second in the shootout. Nash

had hit the post on Columbus' first attempt.

"We've seen him in practice," Hitchcock said. "He's got three

or four moves. I just felt like we needed to change things up."

Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland and Martin Havlat scored in

regulation for the Blackhawks, whose four-game winning streak


Chicago needs one point to clinch the fourth seed in the Western

Conference and home-ice advantage in the first round of the

playoffs. The Blackhawks will make their first postseason

appearance since 2002 and only their second in 11 seasons.

"It would have been nice to get both points tonight," Chicago

coach Joel Quenneville said. "We definitely left a valuable

point on the table. I think we started well, but Columbus is a

desperate team that fought back hard."

Chicago will close the regular season with a home-and-home

series against Detroit.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet," Quenneville said. "We

haven't reached our final goal, our final destination. That's

home ice."

Columbus goalie Steve Mason made 24 saves. Chicago's Nikolai

Khabibulin stopped 19 shots in his fifth straight start and the

10th in the last 11 games.

Chicago led, 2-0, after the first period.

Khabibulin made a blocker save on Nash's penalty shot 8:59 in to

keep it scoreless. Nash was awarded the attempt after being

hooked from behind by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith on a


Seabrook opened the scoring with a power-play breakaway with

6:12 left in the first. The goal ended Chicago's 0-for-23 slump

with the man advantage.

After serving an interference call, Seabrook sprinted from the

penalty box to center ice. He took a long pass from Brian

Campbell, skated in alone and beat Mason with a low shot between

the pads.

Bolland was credited with a goal with 21 seconds left in the


After taking Kris Versteeg's pass on a 2-on-1 break, Bolland

skated wide to the right side of the net as Mason came out to

challenge. Bolland's centering pass drifted behind Mason and

into the slot, then was knocked into the net by Nash sliding on

the ice as he tried to catch up with the play.

Vermette and Williams scored 2:23 apart early in the second to

tie it.

After Khabibulin had made saves on Raffi Torres and Nash,

Vermette converted a second rebound at 5:37 to cut it to 2-1.

Williams tied it, finishing a 2-on-none break with Vermette.

Havlat restored Chicago's lead at 3-2 with 2:17 left in the

second on a rising shot from the right circle that ticked in off

the left post. Patrick Kane's centering pass from below the

goal line set him up.

Nash tied it at 3 with 5:30 left in the third, when he slipped

in alone from the left side of the net and beat Khabibulin with

a backhander. Chicago outshot Columbus, 5-0, in overtime.

Mason made two close-in saves in the final seconds.



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