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Blue Jackets knock Avalanche from playoff contention
Injury kept Blue Jackets' Nash out for entire third period
The win came at a price for the Blue Jackets, who lost Nash to an undisclosed injury that kept him out for the entire third period. His status remains uncertain for the Jackets' home finale Saturday against the New York Islanders - possibly his final home game in a Columbus jersey as rumors persist that he'll be traded in the offseason.
With the Avalanche now out of the postseason picture, all 16 playoff participants have been determined with only final placings left to be decided.
After Atkinson and Colorado's David Jones traded goals early in the opening period, Nash put the Blue Jackets back in front with 3:31 remaining. The veteran sniper pounced on a rebound of a Mark Letestu shot and fired it past Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov from the side of the net for his 28th goal of the campaign.
Paul Stastny tied the game on an Avalanche power play 2:38 into the middle frame, redirecting a Peter Mueller shot past Columbus goaltender Steve Mason.
Columbus roared back at 6:47 on their own man advantage, as Nash converted a cross-crease pass from Derick Brassard. Atkinson extended the lead at 11:51 on a goal that was originally credited to R.J. Umberger, and he completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal with 1:04 remaining in the game.