- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - All of a sudden, the Chicago Blackhawks can’t seem to win a game. Of all things, the Columbus Blue Jackets can’t lose.

Antoine Vermette took a pass from R.J. Umberger and scored 2:38 into overtime, giving the Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Chicago has wilted, losing four in a row and six of seven. The Blackhawks are still a lock for the playoffs, but climbing out of this hole has been difficult.

“It’s not easy to get out of this funk right now,” said Patrick Kane, who had a goal and an assist. “But we need to (start) doing the right thing from now on.”

The Blue Jackets, who have never been to the playoffs in their eight seasons, get great goaltending when they need it and even when the score mounts they have found goals.

“It doesn’t get much better than a playoff race,” said Vermette, acquired last month in a trade-deadline deal with the Ottawa Senators. “It’s great. I’m pretty happy.”

Umberger carried the puck up the right wing on a 2-on-1 in the overtime, saucering a pass that tumbled to the high slot where Vermette beat defenseman Brian Campbell to the puck and chipped it past Cristobal Huet for his first game-winner in more than a year.

Vermette, picked up for injured goaltender Pascal Leclaire and a fifth-round pick, has points in five of his six games in a Columbus sweater.

Umberger, Derek Dorsett and Rick Nash added goals for the Blue Jackets, who came into the night sixth in the Western Conference. Columbus tied a franchise record with 80 points.

For the first time, the Blue Jackets find themselves watching for other scores to see how it affects their playoff run.

“When you’re in this kind of race, everybody checks every once in a while,” said Dorsett. “No one really pays too much attention. You’ve just got to worry about yourself and make sure you’re getting the two points.”

Rookie goalie Steve Mason stopped 24 shots to improve to 29-17-3.

Jonathan Toews also had a goal and an assist, and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks. Huet made numerous spectacular saves, stopping 24 shots.

“Obviously, the way we’ve been playing, it’s good to get a point,” Kane said. “But you want to go in and win that game. So it’s disappointing not to get two. You can tell by everyone’s reaction in the locker room that we’re not real happy.”

Hurricanes 4, Devils 2

At Raleigh, N.C., Anton Babchuk scored twice and Eric Staal added a goal as Carolina beat the Martin Brodeur-less Devils.

Cam Ward stopped 41 shots and Carolina began a homestand by snapping a three-game losing streak _ including two in shootouts _ and ending the Devils’ four-game winning run. The Hurricanes have won a season-high six in a row at home.

New Jersey played without Brodeur, who set the NHL record for career goalie wins by beating Chicago for No. 552 on Tuesday night. It was the first time Brodeur missed a start in 10 games since returning from an elbow injury on Feb. 26.

Kevin Weekes made 28 saves in place of Brodeur. Zach Parise and Brian Gionta scored for the Devils.

Flames 2, Stars 1

At Calgary, Alberta, Eric Nystrom scored the go-ahead goal with 8:14 left _ his first in 14 games _ to lift the Flames.

Jamie Lundmark also scored and Calgary increased its Northwest Division lead over Vancouver to five points.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 18 saves to earn his NHL-leading 41st win (41-17-5) and his 200th in the NHL. Kiprusoff had surrendered 19 goals in his previous four starts and was pulled by coach Mike Keenan twice.

Brendan Morrison scored the lone goal for Dallas, ninth in the Western Conference.

Ducks 4, Predators 3, OT

At Anaheim, Calif., Teemu Selanne scored the Ducks’ third power-play goal 34 seconds into overtime for his 1,200th NHL point, and rookies Andrew Ebbett and Bobby Ryan also connected with the man advantage for the Ducks.

Corey Perry also scored for Anaheim, Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf each had two assists and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 28 saves. With 72 points, the Ducks are three points behind eighth-place Edmonton in the Western playoff race.

Joel Ward had two goals for Nashville, J.P. Dumont had a goal and an assist and Ryan Suter had three assists.

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