Series (Game 1 of 5)

Chicago leads 3-2

Game 1: Thursday, October 10th
Blue Jackets2
Game 2: Tuesday, October 29th
Blue Jackets2Final
Game 3: Friday, December 20th
Blue Jackets1Final
Game 4: Monday, January 20th
Blue Jackets5
Game 5: Saturday, February 15th
Blue Jackets1

Blackhawks 1

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Blue Jackets 2

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 10, 2002

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

1 2 3 T
CHI 0 1 01
CBJ 0 2 02

Top Skaters

Chicago: S. Berezin - 1 G, 3 SOG, Even

Columbus: M. Sillinger - 1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1

Nash scores first career goal in Jackets' win

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Rick Nash didn't have trouble sleeping the night before his NHL debut -- his dreams were filled with goals.

The first player selected in the draft, Nash scored on his second shot as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 Thursday night in the opener for both teams.

Asked if he envisioned scoring, Nash smiled and said, "In my dreams I did.''

The goal wrapped up a hectic week for the teen-ager from Brampton, Ont. First, he was impressive enough in the preseason to stick with the big club. Then he signed a three-year contract worth a base salary of more than $1 million a year that could add up to $12 million if he meets all the incentives in it.

Nash said he didn't have much difficulty dealing with the hype surrounding his debut.

"I didn't think it was too much pressure,'' he said. "I'm only 18 years old and in my first game. It was a bonus to get the first goal.''

Mike Sillinger added a goal and an assist, and Marc Denis stopped 31 shots, including several in the final 2 minutes while the Blackhawks applied steady pressure on the power play.

"Marc was just terrific when we were a man short,'' Columbus coach Dave King said of the wild finish.

After pulling goalie Jocelyn Thibault, Chicago had a two-man advantage for the final 34 seconds but did not have a solid scoring chance.

Sillinger scored on a backhander -- from a long rebound surrendered by Thibault -- at the 17:03 mark of the second period to put Columbus ahead 2-1. Ray Whitney's shot from the right point ricocheted to Sillinger's skate.

"All preseason we talked about carrying it over to the regular season,'' Sillinger said. "It was a great game tonight.''

After a scoreless period, Chicago's Sergei Berezin, signed as a free agent after playing last season for Phoenix and Montreal, scored on a power play at 6:42 of the second.

Berezin jammed in a rebound in heavy traffic in front of the goal, with Kyle Calder and Alexei Zhamnov credited with assists.

A capacity crowd of 18,136 went wild after the 18-year-old Nash swooped in on a rebound for his first goal. Thibault was handcuffed by Sillinger's blast from the point, the rebound bouncing out to Nash who was all alone with an empty net in front of him.

"He's one of those guys who has a presence,'' King said.

After sliding the puck past Thibault before he could recover, Nash raised his arms in jubilation.

"I owe my linemates a lot of the credit for that one,'' he said.

It was the first time Columbus, in its third year in the NHL, won an opener. The Blue Jackets did not win until their third game two years ago and waited until the seventh game last season while posting the second-worst record in the league.

Chicago coach Brian Sutter was not happy with his team's effort. "They didn't skate like they could. No excuses. Too much east-to-west,'' Sutter said. "We wasted too many chances. They played hard and we didn't play hard.''

Nash left in the third period after he got tangled with Chicago veteran Phil Housley near the boards behind the Chicago goal with 8½ minutes remaining. The young star was rammed into the boards and fell to the ice, with Housley falling on top of him.

He lay on the ice for several seconds before he was helped to the Columbus dressing room, favoring his left leg. He returned to the bench later, although he did not play. Early reports indicated Nash had leg cramps.

Columbus' Grant Marshall was called for hooking with 2 minutes left and the puck seldom left Chicago's offensive zone the rest of the way.

"I don't think we want to play too many third periods like that,'' Sillinger said. "We had to hang on too much.''

Game notes

The game was the 57th consecutive sellout at Nationwide Arena, but 400 tickets remained Thursday morning -- largely because of Paul McCartney's concert at nearby Value City Arena. ... The Blackhawks were 3-3-1-1 in the preseason, and the Blue Jackets went 6-3. ... Chicago was 1-for-7 on the power play and Columbus was 1-for-6. ... The Blue Jackets had 33 shots.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press