Blue Jackets 3, Panthers 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been waiting and waiting for
goalie Steve Mason to look remotely like the player he was last
The wait ended Wednesday night.
Mason stopped 32 shots for his first shutout of the season, and
Jason Chimera scored for the third straight game to lead the Blue
Jackets past Florida, 3-0.
After winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie with a
league-best 10 shutouts, Mason was feeling the pressure.
“It’s been kind of weighing on me the last little while,” he
said. “Obviously, every goaltender likes to have a couple of goose
eggs throughout the year. I was having trouble getting the first
one but it’s nice to get it out of the way.”
The win provided a confidence boost for Mason, who came in with
a record of 9-8-5 and was giving up almost 3 1/2 goals a game. He
had lost all five shootouts, stopping barely half of the 1-on-1
shots he faced.
Derick Brassard ended a 14-game scoring drought with a late
“I was not playing bad,” said Brassard, who only played the
first 31 games last year before having season-ending shoulder
surgery. “I was just not playing like a great player, which is
what I want to be. For me, when you think about it, I missed 50
games last year. I’m pretty much still a rookie this year. I think
it’s just going to come with experience, where you go on the ice
just to be strong on pucks and make some plays.”
The Panthers lost their third in a row overall and fourth
straight on the road. Both teams came in having lost eight of their
“We weren’t able to capitalize on our chances,” goalie Tomas
Vokoun said. “It’s been a problem for us lately.”
Late in a first period in which the Blue Jackets buzzed the net
continually, Chimera broke through. He collected the puck near the
halfboards in his own end and skated almost the length of the ice
before backhanding a shot Vokoun thought he trapped against his
chest. The puck slipped from his grasp, and Chimera punched it
between his leg pads.
It was the third time Chimera scored goals in three consecutive
games. He has never tallied in four straight.
The turning point of the game came midway through the third
period when Mason and the Blue Jackets withstood three consecutive
Florida power plays.
The Panthers also had 23 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but
didn’t come close to scoring.
“(Antoine) Vermette won a huge draw there on the 5 on 3,”
Chimera said. “We got the puck out right away, which kills 10 to
15 seconds. That’s huge. Guys were blocking shots, doing the things
necessary to keep it scoreless for the big guy back there.”
Soon after the Blue Jackets killed off the second penalty,
Brassard took a pass from Raffi Torres and skated to the left edge
of the net before lifting the puck over Vokoun’s right shoulder. It
was the first time Brassard had scored in more than a month.
Columbus also killed another later penalty.
Mason had given up 13 goals in the Blue Jackets’ three-game
“He looked like the same Mase as last year,” coach Ken
Hitchcock said. “He gave us a chance tonight. He and the
defensemen played very well tonight and that’s what we were looking
Samuel Pahlsson added an odd empty-netter with 1:28 left,
scoring unassisted while winning a center-ice faceoff. He chopped
at the puck, and it slid between the Florida defensemen and into
He said it was possible that the Florida faceoff man supplied
most of the momentum on the goal.
Asked if he would be calling home to brag about the goal he
laughed and said, “No. No. I wouldn’t do that.”
The Blue Jackets, the youngest team in the NHL with an average
age of 26 1/2, had been prevented from practicing for several weeks
because of a tight schedule. But Hitchcock had put them through
their paces the past two days, turning the workouts into a
refresher course on the fundamentals for the youngsters.
“We accomplished a lot the last two days in practice,” Mason
said. “Guys really put forth a great effort. It showed tonight. I
thought we looked really sharp, and we stuck to the game plan. That
was the biggest thing. A lot of credit goes out to the guys because
we played one heck of a game tonight.”
NOTES: The Blue Jackets activated F Derek Dorsett after he
missed nine games because of a concussion. … Florida came in 27th
in the NHL on the power play and went 0 for 3. … Anton Stralman,
who had the second assist on Brassard’s goal, set a career high
with his 13th helper. … R.J. Umberger picked up his 100th career
assist on Chimera’s goal.