Columbus Wins Its Third Straight Game
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Three First Period Goals, Denis' 41 Saves Lead Columbus To Its Third Straight Win
Columbus Wins Its Third Straight Game

Friday, 12.30.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
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Three First Period Goals, Denis\' 41 Saves Lead Columbus To Its Third Straight Win
Columbus Wins Its Third Straight Game<\/span>

(AP) -- Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev each had a goal and an assist to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Friday night for their third straight win.

Nash, who has played in just 10 games due to ankle and knee injuries, had his first multi-point game this season.

Dan Fritsche also scored for Columbus and Marc Denis made 41 saves to help send the Blackhawks to their sixth straight loss and eighth in their last nine games.

Mark Bell and Martin Lapointe scored for Chicago, which outshot Columbus 43-21.

Blackhawks goalie Craig Anderson, starting in place of injured Nikolai Khabibulin, made 18 saves.

The Blue Jackets took advantage of Blackhawks' breakdowns to jump to a 3-0 lead in the first period.

Fritsche opened the scoring at 2:59 when he slipped free from Chicago defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and redirected Geoff Platt's centering pass past Anderson's glove side.

Zherdev made it 2-0 at 8:44 to after taking a pass from Nash and finishing a 2-on-1 break. Zherdev also beat Anderson high on the glove side.

Nash connected from the edge of the crease with 6:58 left in the first to extend the Blue Jackets' lead to 3-0. Following a faceoff in the Chicago zone, Blackhawks defenseman Jim Vandermeer lost the puck to Zherdev, who then fed Nash at the net.

During a two-minute, 5-on-3 power play late in the first, the Blackhawks managed only one shot.

Chicago outshot Columbus 19-4 in the second, but only managed to cut the lead to 3-1, on Bell's power-play goal at 3:23. Bell fired in a high shot from the left circle after taking a pass from Tyler Arnason out of the corner.

Lapointe trimmed it to 3-2 at 9:18 of the third. His shot from the right circle deflected off Columbus defenseman Radoslav Suchy and popped over Denis' shoulder.

Bell knocked the puck in the Columbus net from a pile with 2:45 left, but referee Shane Heyer had blown the whistle before the puck crossed the goal line.

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