Rick Nash capped a big night with the shootout winner to give Columbus a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock's 500th career victory.
Jason Williams' nifty deke of pretending to fan on his shot gave Columbus an early lead in the shootout before Jason Blake tied it. After Nash's goal, Lee Stempniak fired wide to end the shootout.
Kristian Huselius tied it at 3 just 1:48 into the third when he took Nash's pass from behind the net in the slot and snapped it home.
Nash and R.J. Umberger also scored in regulation for the Blue Jackets (30-23-6), who improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven outings despite seeming to have little left in the tank after a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Wednesday night.
The win fueled their push for the franchise's first ever postseason berth _ they began the day sixth in the super-tight Western Conference _ and made Hitchcock just the 13th NHL coach to hit the 500-win plateau. He's 500-337-122, tying the Toe Blake for 12th place on the career list.
Nik Antropov scored twice, and Jamal Mayers also scored for the Maple Leafs (21-27-10), who lost for the fourth time in five games.
Rookie Justin Pogge, making back-to-back starts for first time in his career, played better than he did Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to Buffalo, but the 22-year-old is still looking for his second NHL win.
Pogge was outplayed by Calder Trophy favorite Steve Mason, the 20-year-old sensation who has virtually carried the Blue Jackets this season.
Mason had another strong effort in his fifth game since returning from a brief bout with mononucleosis, making a couple tremendous stops in the third. He kicked out his right leg to stop Blake on a breakaway and then snagged Mayers' shot out of the air with his glove.
Notes:@ This was just the seventh meeting ever between the teams. The Leafs went 4-0-1-1 through the first six meetings, including a 3-1 win exactly on year earlier. ... Boyd Devereaux made his season debut for the Leafs. LW Brad May and G Curtis Joseph were healthy scratches. ... RW Derek Dorsett and D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen were scratched for Columbus.
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