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No shutout for Mason, but Nash powers Blue Jackets

By Dave Reed

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Kristian Huselius scored a pair of goals and

captain Rick Nash converted a penalty shot and added three

assists as the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their season-high

winning streak to four games with a 6-1 victory over the

Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

Rookie Steve Mason stopped 23 shots to improve to 13-7-1, but

his shutout streak came to an end at 199 minutes, 28 seconds

when Darcy Tucker gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with 2:40

remaining in the first period.

"When I look back at the goal, I probably should have had it,"

Mason said. "It's kind of disappointing to look at it that way.

It went through a couple of guys, but I didn't get the greatest

push across."

"Mason has been great. It's too bad he let that one in," Nash

said. "In some sense, it was kind of nice just because it was a

huge weight off everyone's shoulders. He's been amazing all

season. A goalie can take you a long way."

Mason was attempting to become just the third goaltender to post

four or more consecutive shutouts. Current San Jose Shark Brian

Boucher holds the modern-day record as he posted five straight

blankings during the 2003-04 season.

"Obviously, everybody makes a big deal about it," Mason said.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing for the hockey

club is getting wins. It's kind of nice that it's out of the

way and we can kind of move on now."

Huselius tied the game at 1-1 at 2:28 of the second period, when

his shot from the right faceoff circle went off the left

goalpost and past netminder Peter Budaj.

Nash, who was awarded the penalty shot after being hooked by

Colorado defenseman Brett Clark, put the Blue Jackets ahead with

7:27 to go in the period, beating Budaj to the stick side. It

was Columbus' first penalty-shot goal since David Vyborny

converted against Nashville on December 17, 2005.

For Nash, it was his first penalty-shot goal in six tries.

"I've struggled with those," Nash said with a grin. "I like

someone hanging off my back and having to do it that way. I

haven't seen the replay of the actual penalty. I know he got me

a little because I wasn't able to raise the puck."

Columbus took a 3-1 lead with 3:50 to play in the second, when

Huselius took a pass from Nash at the bottom of the right circle

and scored in a vacant net. It completed the first multi-goal

effort of the season for Huselius.

"The first one was a good play down low," Huselius said. "We

had a good cycle going. The second one was just a nice pass by

Nash. We're playing well as a team, so we just have to keep it

up."

"We lost the game in the second period," Avalanche coach Tony

Granato admitted.

The Blue Jackets put away the game early in the third as

defenseman Mike Commodore and Jakub Voracek scored goals exactly

one minute apart. Nash set up Commodore's blast from above the

right circle to tie career highs with three assists and four

points.

R.J. Umberger netted a power-play goal with 8:56 remaining as

Columbus matched its best offensive output of the season.

"We were on our heels in the first period," Blue Jackets coach

Ken Hitchcock said. "We weren't prepared for the competitive

level of the game at the start, but we adjusted. We really went

after it and played our game in the second and third periods."

The Blue Jackets extended their recent mastery of the Avalanche

by winning for the fourth time in the last five meetings,

including both matchups here this season.

"It was a heck of a game by the guys," Mason said. "I really

had to do absolutely nothing. After that first period, the guys

came through in a big way."

Colorado, which lost at home for just the second time in its

last nine games, still owns a 13-3-0 all-time record against

Columbus at Pepsi Center.

"They competed, which we didn't do," said Colorado's Ian

Laperriere, who set up the Avalanche's only goal. "It comes

down to the individuals. If you don't prepare yourself for the

game, it doesn't matter which system the coaches put out there.

You won't have any chance to win. That was the best example

tonight."

Budaj finished with 24 saves.

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