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Denis, Jackets deal Sharks fourth loss in row

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Doug MacLean
showed he had faith in rookie Rick Nash. Nash proved he deserved
it.

Marc Denis stopped 38 shots and Nash provided the only goal as
the Blue Jackets beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Nash was playing his first game on the Blue Jackets' No. 1 line.
He was moved up from the third line and replaced Geoff Sanderson,
who was dropped to the third unit.

"It's unbelievable how much confidence they can have in an
18-year-old,'' said Nash, a top contender for rookie of the year.
"It gives me confidence.''

It was the first time the Blue Jackets had ever won a 1-0 game.

The shutout was Denis' third of the year and seventh of his
career. He faced 19 shots in the first two periods and 19 in the
third as the Sharks turned up the pressure.

"It was a big game. This is a team we're chasing,'' Denis said.
"We're going to try to keep climbing the ladder. We were three
points behind them entering tonight's game.''

Denis came into the game 0-4-0 against the Sharks with a 5.11
goals-against average.

San Jose, which lost its fourth in a row, had beaten the Blue
Jackets in their last four meetings. Columbus tied a franchise
record as it stretched its home points streak to six (4-0-2).

"We really kept the shots to the outside,'' interim coach
MacLean said. "Marc was sharp when he had to be. It was a good,
solid performance in a game that moved us ahead of Phoenix and
Nashville and one point behind San Jose.''

Nash picked up his 12th goal -- and first game-winner ever -- at
7:13 of the first period. Nash ended up with the puck near the blue
line at the right boards and skated in on San Jose goaltender Mikka
Kiprusoff. He fired a shot from the right circle that appeared to
handcuff Kiprusoff, skipping off the goalie and bouncing lazily
behind him into the net.

David Vyborny and Scott Lachance picked up assists, Lachance
collecting his first point of the season in 41 games and his first
in a Columbus uniform.

"It was a great play by Lachance, just passing it up to Davey.
It was a great chip by him and it was right on my stick,'' Nash
said. "I just used the defenseman as a screen. Lucky for me it
trickled in.''

Lachance said he was embarrassed by the reaction to his first
point.

"Doug came over and gave me a high-five,'' Lachance said with a
grin. "I was like, 'Oh, geez.' I was giving it to him, like, it
wasn't the first goal of my career.''

Sanderson, without a goal in the last 13 games, was stymied
twice by Kiprusoff on two point-blank shots midway through the
opening period.

A crowd of 17,822 booed lustily when Nash was called for diving
when he hit the ice while being shadowed by San Jose defenseman
Mike Rathje with 6:17 left. But the Blue Jackets weathered that and
two other Sharks power plays in the final period.

Each team was 0-for-4 with a man advantage.

"In the third period I thought we had great chances, but we
didn't score,'' Sharks forward Teemu Selanne said. "Their goalie
played really well and he was lucky, too. It was one of those
nights when you don't get any bounces. We could have easily scored
four or five goals, but it didn't happen.''

Ohio State's national championship college football team was
recognized with a 1-minute standing ovation during the first break
in the first period.

Coach Jim Tressel dropped the opening puck after another lengthy
ovation, and then left the ice while shaking hands and greeting the
Blue Jackets lined up along the bench.

Game notes
LW Ray Whitney, Columbus' leading scorer with 53 points,
missed the game with the flu. ... It was the middle game of a
seven-game road trip for San Jose. ... D Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre
played his first home game for the Blue Jackets since Dec. 28. ...
Nash has points in his last three games (1-2-3).