Wednesday's Three Stars: Nash, Jackets make their point

No. 1 Star: Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

The captain scored his 39th goal of the season at 14:30, eventually forcing overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks and earning Columbus the point it needed to clinch the first playoff berth in franchise history. Nash ended with two points, and the Jackets eventually won in the shootout, 4-3. The Blue Jackets star had some heartfelt words for late team owner John H. McConnell, who died last year at 85: "I wish he was here to watch, but I'm sure he's watching somewhere ... Last year we tried so hard. We knew he was sick. We wanted to make the playoffs so bad last year, but we didn't have the manpower." This year was a different story.

No. 2 Star: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

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The goalie's 32-save effort kept the faintest of faint playoff hopes alive for the Sabres, who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road, 3-1. Miller made 25 saves in the final two periods to preserve the victory, as Toronto also went 0-for-6 on the power play.

No. 3 Star: Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets

Stevie Franchise stopped 24 shots on the night, including five in overtime, and didn't allow a goal in the shootout to earn his 33rd win of the season as a rookie.

Honorable Mention: Playing on back-to-back nights, Nikolai Khabibulin made 19 saves for the Blackhawks, who were again without the injured Patrick Sharp. Martin Havlat scored goal No. 28 on the year in the loss. ... Antoine Vermette (16) and Jason Williams (19) had the other Columbus goals. ... Buffalo's win came on the strength of goals by Jason Pominville (18), Thomas Vanek (38) and Paul Gaustad (12).

Did You Know?: The Blackhawks set a single-season attendance record of 835,972 on Wednesday night with a crowd of 21,536, their 42th straight sellout at the United Center. The total doesn't include the Winter Classic gate, either. Impressive.

Dishonorable Mention: Three jeers for Curtis Joseph of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who tied Gump Worsley for the most losses in NHL history by a goalie with 452. Brad May's defense of his teammate: "Cecil Fielder hit the most home runs one year, if I'm not mistaken, and he had the most strikeouts, too." We're sure Cujo is flattered by the comparison. ... Chicago still needs one point for home ice in the first round. ... Finally, a good scrap between Jared Boll and Ben Eager, but that initial pop to the face by Eager is something to behold at about the 45-second mark:

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