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Mason posts seventh shutout as Blue Jackets blank Senators

By Dave Holstein

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Steve Mason made 18 saves en route to

his league-leading seventh shutout of the season and fellow

rookie Jakub Voracek scored the lone goal as the Columbus Blue

Jackets continued their dominance of the Eastern Conference with

a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

The favorite to win the Calder Trophy this season, Mason turned

aside eight shots in both the first and third periods while

needing to make just two saves in the middle session to improve

to 7-1-0 with five blankings against teams from the East.

"The most important thing for me is getting into playoff

position," Mason said. "We did that tonight, and we just want

to keep moving forward with it. Shutouts are nice to get on a

personal note, but they don't really mean anything in the end."

After a scoreless first period, Columbus got on the board early

in the second. Voracek notched his eighth goal of the season

just three seconds after an Ottawa penalty had expired.

Michael Peca fired a slap shot from the left point that was

redirected by Voracek past goaltender Alex Auld at 3:55 of the

middle session, giving Mason all the support he needed.

"I was a little bit lucky," Voracek said. "Michael Peca hit me

in front of the net, but I'll take it. It's a big two points

for us."

"Jake was great tonight," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.

"He played really well."

Auld, who was making his first start since January 6, made 24

saves. He fell to 0-6-2 since December 6.

"I felt good," Auld said. "Tonight, I just wanted to focus on a

good start and do things right. It's tough to play that well

and not end up with the win. Even as a team, I thought we

played well."

"Alex was really good," said Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg, whose

team kept Columbus scoreless on six power-play chances. "He was

outstanding, and your best penalty-killer has to be your goalie.

He made some big saves early in the hockey game to give us a

chance."

The 20-year-old Mason preserved the lead with two spectacular

saves late in the third period with his club shorthanded.

First, he went from goalpost to goalpost to make a sliding stop

on defenseman Alexandre Picard. On the same power play, Mason

again robbed Picard with a glove save to secure the victory for

Columbus, which raised its record to 8-2-1 against the East.

"Mase had to make three big saves in the third period,"

Hitchcock said. "He's a good hockey player. You just have to

accept the fact that you have a hammer."

The Senators went 0-for-5 with the man advantage, including

three opportunities in the final session.

"Against that team, you are not going to create a lot of scoring

chances," Hartsburg said. "But in the third, we did have a

couple of quality ones. That's what it comes down to against

Columbus - you have to score on your chances because you aren't

going to get many."

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