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Nash lifts Blue Jackets past Maple Leafs

TORONTO (Ticker) -- Captain Rick Nash scored the decisive goal

in the shootout after recording a tally and an assist in

regulation, leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory

over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Jason Williams also tallied in the bonus format for the Blue

Jackets, who are 6-0-1 over their last seven games.

R.J. Umberger and Kristian Huselius scored in regulation and

Manny Malhotra added a pair of assists for Columbus.

"Every night we can get two points is huge, especially when we

played back-to-back games," Huselius said. "We were kind of

sloppy; looked tired but still, we came up with the win. So

that shows a lot of character."

Nik Antropov netted a pair of goals, Jamal Mayers tallied and

Alexei Ponikarovsky had two assists for the Maple Leafs, who

have lost six of their last eight contests.

"We had a lot of chances, a couple empty nets," Antropov said.

"It's frustrating to lose like that. We had the game in hand,

but at the end of the night, it's a loss."

Williams opened the scoring in the shootout despite losing

control of the puck on his attempt. The move still fooled

Toronto rookie goaltender Justin Pogge, who let the puck slide

past him.

"You can ask the goalies here, I've done it on them a couple of

times," Williams said. "It's just one of those moves that is

kind of risky, but it paid off and I'm glad it did."

After Jason Blake provided the answer by banging his ensuing

attempt off the goalpost and in for the Maple Leafs, Nash

converted his chance with quick snap shot to recapture the

advantage for the Blue Jackets.

"We've been struggling a bit on the penalty shots," Nash said.

"The first one was lucky, Willy kind of tricked him. I was

lucky to get one in to win it."

Rookie Steve Mason, who finished with 32 saves, stopped Lee

Stempniak's attempt to secure a milestone win for Columbus coach

Ken Hitchcock.

The 57-year-old Hitchcock became the 13th coach in NHL history

to reach the 500-win mark. He is tied with Hall of Famer Toe

Blake for 12th on the all-time list.

Facing a 3-2 deficit entering the final session, the Blue

Jackets tied the contest 98 seconds into the period. Nash

controlled the puck behind the net and delivered a centering

pass to Huselius, who fired a one-timer past Pogge.

"We were back right away in the third, got some good shifts and

scored right away to tie it up," Huselius said. "We just played

solid all the way."

Pogge, who did not make a save in the shootout, stopped 31 shots

before the bonus format.

"(Pogge) played well," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "He was

solid and gave us a chance to win the game."


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