NHL

Thu, Dec 30, 2010 - 7:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Blue Jackets 3, Maple Leafs 2

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TORONTO (AP)

Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets made themselves right at home at Air Canada Centre.

''To come into Toronto and finally win one in regulation with all my friends and family here, it's pretty special,'' Nash, from nearby Brampton, said after a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Kristian Huselius scored twice, R.J. Umberger added the winner on a third-period power play, and Nash and Antoine Vermette each had two assists.

Umberger scored his 11th goal of the season at 3:34 of the third. With Joey Crabb off for holding, Umberger tipped Nash's wrist shot past goalie Jonas Gustavsson.

''We needed this,'' Blue Jackets coach Scott Arneil said. ''We're leaving on a big road trip out West. To get a road win here kind of helps us a little bit in that direction.''

Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs.

''It's always tough to lose, especially tight games like this,'' Gustavsson said. ''But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep going and find a way to win the next game.''

The Blue Jackets have won two straight to improve to 19-15-3.

Columbus goalie Steve Mason stopped 20 of 22 shots for the victory, while Gustavsson made 29 saves.

Columbus got off to a quick start in a game highlighted by defensive gaffes and giveaways by Maple Leafs defensemen. Nash looked particularly dangerous early.

However, it was Kulemin who opened the scoring with his 13th of the season on a 2-on-1 with Clarke MacArthur. Toronto Marlies callup Darryl Boyce chipped the puck off the boards to Kulemin, who passed off to MacArthur. The winger held the puck as long as he could before sliding it across the crease to Kulemin, who shoveled it home.

Huselius answered less than 90 seconds later on a clean breakaway from center ice. After Toronto's Phil Kessel gave the puck away in the Columbus zone, the streaking Huselius took a pass, skated in on Gustavsson and beat him through his pads.

Bozak's fifth of the season on the power play restored Toronto's one-goal lead with 18 seconds to play in the period. With Columbus' Rostislav Klesla in the box for boarding, Kessel picked up the puck behind Mason and tapped it to Bozak at the side of the net. Bozak caught Mason looking the wrong way and chipped it in.

The tide began to shift in Columbus' favor in the second period. Without dangerous forward Mikhail Grabovski, whose girlfriend went into labor Thursday, the Maple Leafs were unable to mount much of an attack and were hemmed into their own end much of the period. Columbus outshot Toronto 11-4 in the frame.

Huselius' second goal tied it 6:47 into the period. It was a gift from Toronto Francois Beauchemin, who had trouble with the puck behind his net.

The puck took a funny bounce off the boards on a dump around and deflected off Beauchemin's skate right onto Huselius' stick to the right of Gustavsson. The shifty winger made a quick forehand-backhand move and beat the Toronto goalie.

''Tonight our 'D' had a tough night, handling pucks, misreading rushes and some pretty bad giveaways,'' Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.

NOTES: Brett Lebda leads all current Toronto players in career assists (8) and points (11) versus Columbus. He was a healthy scratch. ... The Leafs are 2-6-0 on Thursdays this season.

Tagged: Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger, Steve Mason, Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak, Jonas Gustavsson

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