Game 42 Review: Steve Mason. That's All.

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, January 09, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

Steve Mason, the 20-year old rookie goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets, came into Friday night's game leading the entire NHL in shutouts, goals against average and save percentage. The only reason he was left off the Western Conference All-Star team had to be name recognition. If he keeps having games like he did last night against the Washington Capitals, name recognition will be the least of his worries.

Mason turned away all 45 shots he faced for his sixth shutout of the season, and the injury-depleted Blue Jackets beat the Capitals 3-0, before an announced, but not actual, sellout at Verizon Center.

If Tuesday's game with Philadelphia felt and sounded like a playoff game, then the feeling for this one was more of a pre-season game. The stands were barely three-quarters full, and what is usually a vocal Friday night crowd could only be described as subdued. The Caps did nothing to inspire the faithful.

Washington outshot and generally outplayed the Jackets, who were missing most of their top forwards due to injury, including leading scorers Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius. But coach Ken Hitchcock's trapping system kept the Caps from getting too many quality scoring chances, and when they did, Mason was in the way anyway.

Rookie defenseman Karl Alzner expressed the Caps frustration, "Their style of game is frustrating," Alzner said. "They're trapping and they're very tight defensively. If you don't get a goal quickly on them, they get a lot of confidence and get rolling."

Columbus got goals from R.J. Umberger, Fedor Tyutin and Jared Boll, with the second and third goals coming on the power play. Columbus had scored just four power play goals in their last 11 games.

The Jackets ended Washington's nine-game home winning streak.

"It had to happen one day," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You get snakebitten. But good teams rebound from it and, hopefully, we're a good team."

Washington travels to Montreal Saturday night for a battle for second place in the conference and the honor to send their coach to the All-Star game.

Photo by Getty Images.

WAS: None.
CBJ: Umgerger (12) from Voracek and Methot (1-9:27); Tyutin (4) from Malhotra and Boll (2-18:06-PP); Boll (1) from Tyutin and Malhotra (3-14:51)

1. S. Mason - CLB (Saves: 45, Save Pct: 1.000)
2. R. Umberger - CLB (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. J. Boll - CLB (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)

Winger Boyd Gordon suffered back spasms during pre-game warmups and did not play. The injury occurred after the lineups were submitted, so the Caps were forced to skate a player down all game. He is doubtful for tomorrow's game against Montreal.

Sergei Federov and Tomas Fleischmann both returned from lengthy absences, so Eric Fehr and Michael Nylander were the healthy scratches.

Jeff Schultz re-injured his finger and was scratched as well. Tyler Sloan was recalled from AHL Hershey to take his place.