Sports Outside the Beltway

Goalie Steve Mason at it again- Columbus blanks Ottawa 1-0

Last night’s game marks the seventh shutout for the NHL rookie.

It seemed like a while since Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason had recorded a shutout. In reality it was only seven starts, but when you burst onto the scene with six in your first 24 NHL games, including back-to-back-to-back blankings during one stretch, expectations quickly become elevated.

Have no fear — Mason was back at his stingiest best Friday night, and he needed to be. The Blue Jackets got him a Jakub Voracek goal early in the second period and nothing more, but Mason made that hold up with 18 saves in a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators at Nationwide Arena.

“Steve Mason had an outstanding game,” said Voracek, who redirected a shot by Michael Peca past Alex Auld for his eighth of the season. “He made a couple of big saves in the third period. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1-0 or 5-4; it’s still two points for us.”

Mason now leads the League with seven shutouts, and the Blue Jackets moved into a four-way tie for fifth in the Western Conference with 53 points. Three other teams sit just two points out of a playoff spot in an ever-tightening race.

I’m surprised by the rise of Columbus this year. It was easy to write them off after Derick Brassard went out for the season.

Columbus will have to play excellent hockey to make the playoffs, for I feel the Western is the tougher of the two NHL conferences.

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