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Ducks' month-long point streak snapped

12/3/2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The maturation of Rick Nash continues at a
frightfully fast pace.

The second-year forward had a goal and an assist to lead the
Columbus Blue Jackets past Anaheim 2-1 Tuesday night.

"It's a big win. We've been hurting lately with all the
injuries," Nash said. "It's nice to see some kids stepping up.
Those two points are just really big right now."

Among the "kids" the 19-year-old Nash was referring to was
another 19-year-old, acclaimed Russian forward Nikolai Zherdev. He
made his NHL debut after flying out of his homeland on Sunday and
arriving in Columbus on Monday night.

"He caught on after a while," Blue Jackets coach and general
manager Doug MacLean said. "He had tremendous speed at times and
made some great plays."

David Vyborny also had a goal and an assist for the Blue
Jackets, who had lost two straight.

The Mighty Ducks' 11-game point streak was snapped. The last
time they failed to earn a point was Nov. 2 at Chicago.

"We have to look at our preparation and our urgency," coach
Mike Babcock said. "We didn't skate and didn't manage the puck and
didn't come out and go after the other team.

"Anytime you take more penalties than the other team -- even
though I really thought we really got jobbed on one -- that usually
means they're on you more than you're on them."

Vaclav Prospal scored with 31.9 seconds left -- with goaltender
Martin Gerber off for an extra skater -- for the only goal against
Columbus' Marc Denis.

Nash, who had 17 goals as a rookie last season in 74 games,
scored his 16th this season in 24 games. The No. 1 pick in the 2002
draft ran his point streak to six games (6 goals, 2 assists).

MacLean simply called Nash "our big man."

Zherdev, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, joined
the team for its morning skate. He was wildly cheered when he came
on 40 seconds into the game. His first shot was blocked by a
defenseman just 59 seconds into his NHL career.

Late in the game, Zherdev was on a two-on-one rush and waited
patiently before shooting as he closed in on Gerber, who made the
save.

"I had a great chance to score a goal but I think I made the
mistake myself," Zherdev said through an interpreter in the
crowded dressing room. "I felt comfortable today. In this rink I
thought there would be more problems for me because of the small
ice, but it was OK. I was a little bit tired."

Zherdev played 13 shifts and had 10:59 of ice time.

Anaheim had tied an NHL record by going to overtime in its last
five road games. Denis -- and a pair of power-play goals -- made sure
the Mighty Ducks didn't survive regulation.

Pulled after giving up four goals in his last start, Denis was
not supposed to start against Anaheim. He got the last-minute call
when Fred Brathwaite came down with the flu.

"It feels great to bounce back," Denis said. "As of late, to
my liking, there's been too much bouncing-back to do. I'd like to
be more consistent."

The Mighty Ducks had numerous scoring chances in the first two
periods, but the Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead.

Nash slipped a defender and fed Derrick Walser at the point for
a one-timer. The puck was deflected by Gerber, but bounced to
Vyborny for an easy putback.

Vyborny's 10th goal came at 6:20 of the second period.

"He was in my territory and I told him to stay out of there
because that's where I get my goals," Nash said with a laugh.
"I'll let him have that one and we'll talk about it tomorrow in
practice."

Nash then scored 3:18 into the third, taking a perfect
cross-crease pass from Vyborny to easily beat Gerber.

It was Gerber who had given the Blue Jackets the man advantage.
He was given a minor penalty for stuffing his blocker into the
throat of Columbus' Tyler Wright.

Denis, who had 30 saves, made several big stops. None was better
than when he dived to his right and sprawled to block Prospal's jam
shot off a backdoor pass from Petr Sykora at 15:45 of the second
period.

"We just shut down a pretty good offensive team there," Denis
said, shaking his head.

Game Notes: Anaheim C Sergei Fedorov returns to Detroit to play against
the Red Wings on Wednesday. Fedorov won three Stanley Cups and an
MVP award during his 13 seasons with the Red Wings. ... Columbus RW
Trevor Letowski had his point streak end at five games. ... The
Mighty Ducks are 0-7-2-2 when scoring fewer than two goals.