Leclaire stops a career-high 37 pucks
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Malhotra and Zherdev Score; Jackets Drop Sixth Straight
Leclaire stops a career-high 37 pucks

Wednesday, 11.23.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
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Malhotra and Zherdev Score; Jackets Drop Sixth Straight
Leclaire stops a career-high 37 pucks<\/span>

(AP) - Backup goalie Chris Mason made 35 saves to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-2 victory over Columbus on Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets' sixth loss in a row.

Jeremy Stevenson, Dan Hamhuis, David Legwand and Scott Hartnell scored for the Predators, who snapped a five-game road losing skid. Adam Hall had two assists.

Mason, starting while Tomas Vokoun got a night off, improved to 2-0-1 this year.

It was another discouraging defeat for the Blue Jackets, who have lost 10 of 11. Fans have become increasingly disenchanted with Columbus president and general manager Doug MacLean, whose team has the worst record in the NHL (5-17) and the fewest goals in the league (40) by far.

Midway through the third period, a fan on the glass held up a sign that read, ``Trade MacLean.''

Nikolai Zherdev and Manny Malhotra scored for Columbus.

Marek Zidlicky's long pass from the defensive zone all the way to Stevenson near the far blue line led to the first goal. Stevenson took the pass, skated down the right wing while defenseman Duvie Westcott struggled to catch up, and beat goalie Pascal Leclaire high on the stick side at 15:01 of the opening period.

A Predators power play ended 5 seconds before Stevenson's third goal of the year.

Columbus tied it 25 seconds into the second period with a flurry that began with Zherdev's centering pass from the back boards. David Vyborny was stopped by Mason but the puck bounced out to Sergei Fedorov, with Mason using his stick to deflect Fedorov's shot. The puck ricocheted to Zherdev in the left circle and he had almost an empty net for his fourth goal.

Less than 3 minutes later, the Predators took the lead for good with the first of two goals in 47 seconds.

Hamhuis was posted just right of the net and hammered a pinpoint cross-crease pass from Steve Sullivan for his second goal.

That goal had barely been announced when Columbus' Ben Simon and Luke Richardson mishandled the puck in the defensive end, leading to Legwand's third goal off assists from Martin Erat and Scottie Upshall.

The Blue Jackets appeared to have scored at 7:16 of the final period, but Jody Shelley's rebound jam of Dan Fritsche's shot was disallowed because of a whistle.

The Blue Jackets cut the lead to 3-2 at 11:03 of the third when Malhotra scored on a rebound of Gilbert Brule's one-timer from the point. Malhotra did not have a goal in his first 21 games this year and had not scored in his last 52 games.

The power-play goal was only the third for Columbus in 32 opportunities during its last six games.

Notes: Columbus D Adam Foote strained his groin in the first period and did not return. ... Nashville lost the previous three meetings, the past two in overtime. ... Nashville's Kimmo Timonen's five-game points streak ended. ... Leclaire had a career-high 37 saves.

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