for this game

Torres, Mason help Blue Jackets down Predators

Apr 1, 2009 - 2:55 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- In the biggest game in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets relied on their lucky charm.

Raffi Torres, small in stature but very big in heart and grit, scored early in the third period and Steve Mason made it stand up as the Blue Jackets beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 Tuesday night in a key Western Conference showdown.

Columbus, which solidified its hold on sixth place, is 11-0 when Torres has a goal.

"To be honest with you, I think it's a fluke," he said with a chuckle. "I didn't even know about it. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully we'll keep going."

Michael Peca and Torres came in on a 2-on-1 against defenseman Shea Weber, and Peca's shot resulted in a short rebound. Torres jammed the puck past goalie Pekka Rinne with a backhander at 4:05 for his fourth goal in six games.

"He scores big goals all the time," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's had a huge impact on a lot of games in the last month."

R.J. Umberger also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have 88 points, four ahead of Nashville and five in front of eighth-place St. Louis.

"We approached this as the biggest game of the year," Umberger said. "We set ourselves up the first two periods. The third period, we said, 'This is the biggest period right here. We've got to find a way to win this.' We outplayed them. And we can't let it slip."

The Blue Jackets had lost two in a row, both to St. Louis, watching several pursuers draw closer in what had seemed a somewhat comfortable lead in the playoff race. They're trying to make the playoffs for the first time in the franchise's eight seasons.

"This was a huge two points to kind of create a little breathing room," said Mason, who had 21 saves.

Cal O'Reilly gave the Predators a lead midway through the first period.

"We've just got to fight for points," coach Barry Trotz said. "I wish we would have been able to get a point. It's not necessarily about winning or losing, it's about getting points. Because you never know what point may get you in or may keep you out."

The Predators played their first game without second-leading scorer Martin Erat, out a month after breaking a leg on Sunday in a victory at Detroit.

Rinne, who had 31 saves in a matchup of two premier rookie goalies, was swarmed for most of the first period as the Blue Jackets outshot the Predators 17-6.

Late in the period, Antoine Vermette fed Umberger in the right corner. He skated along the goal line unimpeded and his shot deflected off Rinne's chest. Umberger then pounced on the short rebound for his 26th goal.

It stayed 1-1 through two periods, with both goalies making occasional spectacular saves.

Then it was time for the pesty, pesky Torres to strike again.

"I saw Peca coming to pick it up, 2 on 1," he said. "I knew he wasn't going to be able to pass it; their defenseman did a good job of taking the pass away. I just went to the net with my stick on the ice. It worked out perfect."

Mason and the Blue Jackets, without a penalty for 2 periods, had to survive 28 seconds of 5-on-3 and another full 2-minute kill down the stretch.

Mason made a nifty glove save on Michael Santorelli just before the two-man advantage started, then smothered one shot during the power play. Late in the second penalty, Mason had a kick save on Joel Ward's quick, spinning backhander from the high slot.

With 7 minutes left, a dump into Nashville's offensive end took an odd bounce off the boards and ended up on the stick of the Predators' Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist shed a defender and had a clear path to Mason but the goalie deflected the shot.

Each team has five games left, with Nashville hosting the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

"We're going into their building for the next game," Mason said. "We have to be prepared. We can't sit tight with this one."






  • 75
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    #1 Cards Fan Added 10 roots

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  FinalApr 1 10:13 AM
  • 65
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    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  FinalApr 1 12:02 AM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 1 0 0 1
    COLUMBUS 1 0 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NAS - CAL O'REILLY 2 (STEVE SULLIVAN, JOEL WARD) 8:28
    COB - R.J. UMBERGER 26 (ANTOINE VERMETTE, JASON WILLIAMS)
    19:14
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: COB - RAFFI TORRES 12 (MICHAEL PECA, JARED BOLL) 4:05
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSION

    Mar 31 9:30 PM
  • 60
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 24 roots (Close Finish)

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  3rd - 3:55Mar 31 9:20 PM
  • 36
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 20 roots (Close Finish)

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  3rd - 7:45Mar 31 9:14 PM
  • 16
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    RUWTbot Added 16 roots (Close Finish)

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  3rd - 12:00Mar 31 9:04 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 1
    COLUMBUS 2
    3RD PRD: COB - RAFFI TORRES 12 (MICHAEL PECA, JARED BOLL) 4:05

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 2  3rd - 15:55Mar 31 8:58 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 1 0 1
    COLUMBUS 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NAS - CAL O'REILLY 2 (STEVE SULLIVAN, JOEL WARD) 8:28
    COB - R.J. UMBERGER 26 (ANTOINE VERMETTE, JASON WILLIAMS)
    19:14
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NAS

    Mar 31 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 1 1
    COLUMBUS 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NAS - CAL O'REILLY 2 (STEVE SULLIVAN, JOEL WARD) 8:28
    COB - R.J. UMBERGER 26 (ANTOINE VERMETTE, JASON WILLIAMS)
    19:15
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NAS 6

    Mar 31 7:40 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 1
    COLUMBUS 1
    1ST PRD: COB - R.J. UMBERGER 26 (ANTOINE VERMETTE, JASON WILLIAMS)
    19:15

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 1  1st - 0:45Mar 31 7:39 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 1
    COLUMBUS 0
    1ST PRD: NAS - CAL O'REILLY 2 (STEVE SULLIVAN, JOEL WARD) 8:28

    Predators 1, Blue Jackets 0  1st - 11:32Mar 31 7:23 PM