DALLAS (AP) - This time, the Columbus Blue Jackets didn't waste a third-period lead.
Rick Nash scored twice, Steve Mason made 36 saves, and the Blue Jackets registered their first regulation road win of the season, 4-1 over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Antoine Vermette added a goal, and John Moore contributed two assists for the Blue Jackets, who had been 3-12-2 on the road. All three victories had come in overtime or a shootout.
Columbus had failed to win in regulation when leading after two periods in eight straight games, so protecting the lead in the final 20 minutes was a sign of progress.
``After all the things that have kind of backfired on us in the last few weeks, that was a great 20-man effort,' Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. ``From getting an early lead to building on that lead, and then not giving up a whole lot at the end, it was a solid effort.'
Fedor Tyutin's empty-net goal with 2 seconds left clinched the victory for the Jackets, who have an NHL-worst 25 points.
Columbus also had to kill two power plays in the final six minutes to maintain control.
``A lot of people have wondered if everybody cares on this team,' Mason said. ``We put in a good effort. There have been a lot of hurdles to overcome, whether it's bad breaks or bad performance. So it's nice to get a win.'
Vernon Fiddler had a goal for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots in his return from a 12-game absence while recovering from a groin injury.
Lehtonen said he took about half the game before he got into a rhythm.
``It was all right,' he said. ``I was hoping that I would be a little more comfortable. The first 30 minutes, I was just trying to get used to playing again in game situations, but after that, the second half, I felt normal again, so that was good.'
Lehtonen said Mason was simply better.
``I made some good saves, but their guy just had a phenomenal game. That's why it doesn't feel that awesome right now,' Lehtonen said.
Dallas held a 37-29 shots advantage, but had too many attempts from distance.
Nash gave the Blue Jackets a fast start when he popped a loose puck past an out-of-position Lehtonen and into an open net at 3:50 of the first period.
Fiddler tied it at 8:57, striking off a scramble in front of the net after Mason fumbled the puck while making the initial stop.
Vermette sent a rebound past Lehtonen at 2:10 of the second to put Columbus in front 2-1.
Nash notched his team-high 12th goal on a snap shot from the slot at 6:09 of the third. Nash has 17 goals in 32 games against Dallas.
``It's fun to win in a place like this against a team that's tough to play against,' Nash said.
NOTES: Columbus D James Wisniewski was hit in the left ankle by a Dallas shot in the second period and didn't return. ``It looks like (Wisniewski) has a broken ankle,' Arniel said. ... Dallas LW Brenden Morrow was knocked out of the game early in the third period by a knee injury and is day-to-day. ... D Sheldon Souray (ankle), F Tomas Vincour (knee) and D Stephane Robidas (foot) sat out for the Stars. ... G Curtis Sanford (hip, back), LW Kristian Huselius (lower body) and D Radek Martinek (concussion) missed the game for Columbus. ... The Blue Jackets opened a stretch of five of six games on the road. ... Rookie Richard Bachman was 5-2 while subbing for Lehtonen after veteran backup Andrew Raycroft went 2-8. Bachman became the backup when Raycroft was assigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL on Thursday after clearing NHL waivers.
The Associated Press News Service
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