- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Kris Versteeg beat fellow rookie star Steve Mason on a breakaway at 3:10 of overtime to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night.

Versteeg ended it with his 22nd goal of the season moments after Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin stopped Kris Russell on a breakaway. Khabibulin made 20 saves for his second shutout of the season. Mason stopped 24 shots for the Blue Jackets.

A day after clinching a playoff spot for the first time in seven years, the Blackhawks ran their winning streak to three and snapped a season-high five-game road losing streak. Chicago also moved three points ahead of Vancouver _ which faced Colorado later Sunday _ for the fourth seed and home ice in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Columbus has lost five of seven, but only one of those losses was in regulation. They are 8-2-4 in their last 14 and gained a valuable point in defeat.

The Blue Jackets have 90 points, with Anaheim (88 points), Nashville (86) and St. Louis (86) closing ground as the four teams fight for the final three spots. Each team has three games remaining, with Anaheim playing San Jose later Sunday.

The Blue Jackets are trying to secure their first playoff berth. Columbus, which began play in 2000, is the only active team that has not made the playoffs.

Notes:@ The Blue Jackets played without second-leading scorer Kristian Huselius. He sustained a head injury off the opening faceoff Saturday in Nashville. … Chicago RW Patrick Sharp, second on the team with 26 goals, missed the game because of a knee injury. He was hurt Friday night against the Predators. … The clubs will close their regular-season series Wednesday night in Chicago.

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