Blue Jackets halt winless skid

After the longest 5 1/2 weeks in franchise history, the Columbus

Blue Jackets finally had something to smile about.

Fredrik Modin backhanded in a rebound of his own shot 3:12

into overtime to give Columbus a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings

on Monday night, ending the Blue Jackets’ franchise-tying nine-game

winless skid.

“It feels good to get a win, finally,” Modin said after a

wild, celebratory scrum on the ice. “It’s been a struggle. We’ve

been trying to find our game here for a long period of time. This

is definitely a step in the right direction.”

The victory was a relief for Columbus, which had won just two

of its previous 19 games. The Blue Jackets had managed just eight

goals in their previous six games.

Steve Mason had 34 saves for his second shutout of the year,

turning back the clock to his remarkable season last year when he

posted 10 shutouts and captured the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top

rookie.

He came in just 10-13-5 on the year while allowing 3.40 goals

a game – after going 33-20-7 and giving up 2.29 last season.

“I have to play well in order for us to get wins,” he said.

“Obviously, I haven’t really been doing that a whole lot this year.

For myself, this was a good game. But it’s a team effort at the

same time. What I did tonight is what’s expected of me. I need to

do it more often.”

Modin carried the puck into the offensive zone and past

defenseman Brett Lebda to flick a shot at Detroit goaltender Jimmy

Howard. He stopped that shot but Modin continued to skate and was

able to backhand the rebound past a diving Lebda and behind Howard.

Limited to just eight games this year by a troublesome knee

injury, the goal was his first of the season and first since Feb.

10.

“I think we’ve been feeling it coming along over the last few

games that we played,” Modin said. “We played a good game in

Detroit (a 2-1 loss on Saturday night) as well. We didn’t come out

on top there but I thought we carried a lot of that with us

tonight. It was a tight game (with) chances both ways. Obviously,

Steve was phenomenal for us and made some huge saves to keep us in

the game.”

Mason tied the franchise mark for career shutouts with his

12th, matching Marc Denis’ total.

“We need him to play that way to win games,” captain Rick

Nash said. “We need to score more goals, but if Mase plays like

that, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Both goalies were stellar in the second period in particular,

each turning away 16 shots in a wild 20 minutes.

Mason pounced on Pavel Datsyuk’s jam attempt off of Brian

Rafalski’s backdoor pass while Detroit applied pressure during 43

seconds of a 5 on 3. He also stymied Valtteri Filppula from short

range when the Red Wings were on the subsequent power play.

“It was a goaltenders’ battle,” said Howard, who had 39

saves. “He made two or three great glove saves. It was our first

head-to-head battle and it probably wont be our last. He had a hell

of a year last year and has been struggling a bit this year, but he

is a good goalie and played a good game.”

Howard made three clutch saves in the final seconds of the

Blue Jackets’ second man-advantage of the game.

Perhaps Mason’s best stop came after he gave up a long

rebound on a Lebda blast in the final minute of the second period.

The puck went directly to a trailing Tomas Holmstrom for a

one-timer, but Mason gloved his hard shot.

“Holmstrom had the best chance,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock

said. “He had the whole net and put it in his glove. Both teams had

lots of good chances.”

The crowd, sprinkled with Red Wings jerseys, gave both

netminders a loud ovation as the period ended.

“I felt like, for four games now, if we kept playing the same

way, good things will happen,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.