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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

Friday.

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

December.

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

games.

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.

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