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Malhotra scores twice and posts career-high three points; Wings' Hasek chased

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Columbus' second-string goalie Fredrik Norrena got the starting nod and had barely seven minutes to prepare for what became the best performance of his career.

Manny Malhotra provided the offence with two goals and a career-high three points, and the Blue Jackets held off the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Sunday to set a franchise record with 75 points.

Norrena made a career-high 43 saves in place of No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire, who sat out with flu symptoms.

"I would prefer to know the day before, but those are the things you have to get used to as a backup goalie," said Norrena, who won for the first time since Feb. 7.

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Nikolai Zherdev also scored for the Blue Jackets, who recorded only 17 shots but beat Detroit for the third straight time. Rick Nash added two assists for Columbus, having the best of its seven NHL seasons.

"We were our own worst enemy and got away with it," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Our goaltender bailed us out."

Johan Franzen scored two power-play goals, including one with 2:02 remaining to cut Detroit's deficit to 4-3. Tomas Kopecky also had a goal for the Red Wings, who lost for the second time in two days after a five-game winning streak. Pavel Datsyuk had two assists.

"It's a game of mistakes, but they capitalized on every opportunity," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We had every opportunity to score a bunch but they found a way to get some saves."

Dominik Hasek, playing his first game following a two-game absence due to a sore back, was chased in the second period after yielding four goals on 10 shots overall. He was replaced by Chris Osgood.

Osgood made several big stops in the third period to keep Detroit within striking distance before Franzen scored his 20th goal, off a rebound.

Norrena was sharp in the first, turning aside 12 shots while Columbus mustered just four.

"He was the reason we won the game," Nash said.

The Blue Jackets carried a 1-0 lead into the second. Malhotra scored between Hasek's legs at 3:23.

Norrena made a flashy, glove save on Valtteri Filppula's slapshot the first minute of the second period to preserve the one-goal lead.

Five minutes later, Tollefsen threw the puck at the net from the low, left circle that hit the skate of defenceman Chris Chelios. Hasek turned and kicked the puck into his net to give Columbus a 2-0 lead.

After another 1:12, Malhotra whacked a deflected shot out of the air on the backhand for his second of the game and eighth of the season.

"We knew what was expected of us," Malhotra said, referring to Columbus chasing a playoff spot. "With our season on the line right now, we're going to have to play like that through the stretch."

Kopecky put Detroit on the board at 9:15 to make it 3-1. Tollefsen drilled teammate Malhotra while Detroit skated into the zone, giving the Red Wings an open path to the net.

"I thought we were determined," Babcock said. "I thought we stayed on it, tried to keep pushing. The puck didn't want to stay out of our net."

The Blue Jackets responded just over two minutes later on Zherdev's snapper from the slot - his 25th of the season - on a centring pass from Malhotra.

Datsyuk threaded a pass to Franzen, who has 11 points in seven games, for a tap-in, power-play goal at 15:11. That sliced Columbus' lead to 4-2.

Notes: Detroit, the NHL's points leader and the first team to clinch a post-season berth this season, will be playing in the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season. That marks the longest current steak in professional sports. ... Columbus D Rostislav Klesla played in his 400th NHL game. ... Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom of the Red Wings sat out because of groin injuries.


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