|CBJ||0||0||0||0||1 (1 - 2)||4|
|CHI||0||0||0||0||0 (0 - 3)||3|
CHICAGO (AP) -Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock had no trouble putting Rick Nash's late tying goal in perspective.
"The biggest goal in the history of the franchise," Hitchcock said.
Nash scored his 39th goal with 5:30 left in regulation to force overtime and secure the final point the Blue Jackets needed to wrap up their first playoff spot.
Defensemen Fedor Tyutin then scored the lone goal in a shootout to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
"To get that one point was huge ... after being down 2-0. To get the win was even more important," said Nash, finishing his sixth season with Columbus after being drafted first overall in 2002.
The Blue Jackets, who entered the NHL in 2000-01, were the only active team that hadn't made the playoffs. Sixth in the Western Conference, they'll face St. Louis on the road Friday night, then finish Saturday night at home against Minnesota.
"We're going to try to win these last two games to keep our position in the standings," Nash said. "I don't know if it's quite sunk in yet. We're so used to playing out the season."
After Nash hit the post on Columbus' first attempt in the shootout, Tyutin beat Nikolai Khabibulin on the Blue Jackets' second attempt.
"I'm proud of the guys," Hitchcock said. "I wasn't happy about the first period. I thought we were light on the puck. In the second and third period, we came back and managed the play."
Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland and Martin Havlat scored for Chicago, a point away from clinching the fourth seed in the West and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Blackhawks will make their first postseason appearance since 2002 and only their second in 11 seasons.
"We definitely left a valuable point on the table," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Chicago will close the regular season with a home-and-home series against Detroit.
"We haven't accomplished anything yet," Quenneville said. "We haven't reached our final goal, our final destination. That's home ice."
Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the first period, and Vermette and Williams pulled Columbus even midway through the second. Havlat gave Chicago a 3-2 with 2:17 left in the second, and Nash tied it when he slipped in alone from the left side of the net and beat Khabibulin with a backhander.
Khabibulin stopped Nash on a penalty shot in the first period, and finished with 19 saves in his fifth straight start and the 10th in the last 11 games.
Nash took time to remember John H. McConnell, the Blue Jackets' founder and majority owner who died in April 2008 at age 84.
"We did it for ourselves, but most of all we did it for Mr. Mac," the Columbus captain said. "We know he's up there watching. I'm sure he's sitting in his chair and has a cigar in his mouth."
At Toronto, Ryan Miller made 32 saves to help Buffalo keep its slim playoff hopes alive, and Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph tied the NHL career record for losses.
Joseph was tagged with his 452nd loss, tying him with the late Gump Worsley for the most in NHL history. With Martin Gerber expected to get the start in the season finale at home Saturday night against Ottawa, the 41-year-old Joseph - fourth on the career victory list with 454 - probably started his last game for the Maple Leafs.
Thomas Vanek broke a 1-1 tie at 8:09 of the third period, and Paul Gaustad scored 26 seconds later. Toronto's Jeff Finger opened the scoring in the first period, and Jason Pominville countered for the Sabres in the second.
Buffalo is four points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, and two points behind ninth-place Florida. All three teams have two games remaining.
|PPG - Brent Seabrook (8) ASST: Brian Campbell (42), Duncan Keith (35)|
1 - 0 CHI
|Dave Bolland (18) ASST: Kris Versteeg (30), Duncan Keith (36)|
2 - 0 CHI
|Antoine Vermette (16) ASST: Rick Nash (39), Raffi Torres (8)|
2 - 1 CHI
|Jason Williams (19) ASST: Antoine Vermette (25), R.J. Umberger (20)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Martin Havlat (29) ASST: Patrick Kane (44), Jonathan Toews (35)|
3 - 2 CHI
|Rick Nash (39) ASST: Jason Chimera (14), Jan Hejda (17)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||J. Toews||R. Nash|
|2||P. Kane||F. Tyutin|
|Brent Seabrook Interference against Jakub Voracek|
|Fedor Tyutin Interference against Dave Bolland|
|Jared Boll Fighting (maj) against Ben Eager|
|Ben Eager Fighting (maj) against Jared Boll|
|Mike Commodore Holding against Martin Havlat|
|Fedor Tyutin Hooking against Dave Bolland|
|SA: 27||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 24||EV: 21 - 23|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .889||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 22||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 19||EV: 18 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 1|
|SV%: .864||SH: 0 - 0|