Denver, CO – Cam Atkinson netted his first career hat trick and the Columbus Blue Jackets knocked the Colorado Avalanche out of playoff contention with a 5-2 win Thursday night.
Rick Nash scored twice for before leaving with an undisclosed injury and Steve Mason made 35 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have won four of five.
The Avs, clinging to slim postseason hopes, were officially eliminated with the loss. They needed to win their last two games -- and get plenty of help elsewhere -- to make it.
David Jones and Paul Stastny scored for Colorado, losers in five of their last six, and Semyon Varlamov gave up four goals on 27 shots.
Not only did Atkinson pick up his first hat trick, it was his the first multi- point game of his career. The rookie entered the game with two goals and six assists in the NHL.
He scored the first goal after getting behind two defenders on a break in the first period and got No. 3 into an empty net late in the third.
"They kept putting me out there at the end," said Atkinson. "Thank God I got the goal because I was just running out of gas."
Colorado would still have needed San Jose to lose twice in regulation to Los Angeles and Dallas to gain no more than two points in its last two games.
"The bottom line is we weren't good enough," said Avs forward Milan Hejduk. "We came out and played well and knew they'd been playing well lately. But that's no excuse for us. We had chances, but not enough of them and we were a bit tight."
The Blue Jackets said during the game that Nash would no longer be available because of an injury, but didn't expand on what happened.
He scored his first goal late in the first period after collecting a rebound behind Varlamov in the crease, giving the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead, and later made it 3-2 with a power play goal in the second period.
Jones got Colorado on the board in the first, tying the game on a re-direct in the slot, and Stastny's power play tally knotted the score at 2-2 early in the second.
The teams both won twice in the four-game season series...The Avs will finish the season at home Saturday against Nashville, while the Blue Jackets will return to Columbus to face the Islanders, also on Saturday. They went 2-1-0 on a three-game road trip.