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Blue Jackets sink Blackhawks in OT

ALL of a sudden, the Chicago Blackhawks can't seem to win a game. Of all things, the Columbus Blue Jackets can't lose.

Antoine Vermette took a pass from R.J. Umberger and scored 2:38 into overtime, giving the Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Chicago has wilted, losing four in a row and six of seven. The Blackhawks are still a lock for the playoffs, but climbing out of this hole has been difficult. "It's not easy to get out of this funk right now," said Patrick Kane, who had a goal and an assist. "But we need to (start) doing the right thing from now on."

The Blue Jackets, who have never been to the playoffs in their eight seasons, get great goaltending when they need it and even when the score mounts they have found goals.

"It doesn't get much better than a playoff race," said Vermette, acquired last month in a trade-deadline deal with the Ottawa Senators. "It's great. I'm pretty happy."

In other National Hockey League games, it was: Hurricanes 4, Devils 2; Flames 2, Stars 1; and Ducks 4, Predators 3 (in overtime).

In Columbus, Ohio, Umberger carried the puck up the right wing on a 2-on-1 in OT, saucering a pass that tumbled to the high slot where Vermette beat defenseman Brian Campbell to the puck and chipped it past Cristobal Huet for his first game-winner in more than a year.

Vermette, picked up for injured goalie Pascal Leclaire and a fifth-round pick, has points in five of his six games in a Columbus sweater.

Umberger, Derek Dorsett and Rick Nash added goals for the Blue Jackets, who came in sixth in the Western Conference. Columbus tied a franchise record with 80 points.

For the first time, the Blue Jackets find themselves watching for other scores to see how it affects their playoff run.

"When you're in this kind of race, everybody checks every once in a while," said Dorsett. "No one really pays too much attention. You've just got to worry about yourself and make sure you're getting the two points."

Rookie goalie Steve Mason had 24 stops to improve to 29-17-3.

Jonathan Toews also had a goal and an assist, and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks. Huet made numerous spectacular saves, stopping 24 shots.

"Obviously, the way we've been playing, it's good to get a point," Kane said. "But you want to go in and win that game. So it's disappointing not to get two. You can tell by everyone's reaction in the locker room that we're not real happy."


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