This game had all the makings of a disaster.
Coming off a humiliating loss, and playing on the road against a team on a hot streak? Check.
Missing your most emotional player? Check.
Outshot 33-15 through two periods? Check.
The opponent lays out 48 hits on you? Check.
Your most talented, playmaking forward goes down midway through with an injury? Check.
All these things were laid out tonight against the Dallas Stars, yet they had another factor on their side that tipped the scales back in their favor.
The Dallas Stars had Marty Turco.
There's really not much else to say about this game, other than without Turco the Stars would not have even come close to winning this game. The Stars were eventually outshot 43-22 and at one point were outshot 15-0 in the second period. The Columbus Blue Jackets brought the heat on the Stars in as many ways possible and the only thing holding the ship together was Turco.
That's not to say the Stars put together the same lackluster performance they had two nights ago in Chicago. Dallas definitely showed more hustle and drive in this game than they had over the past week. The Stars were hungry for the puck and never quit trying. The Blue Jackets were just too big, too fast and too quick for the Stars for much of the game. Columbus funneled pucks to the net from anywhere on the ice and the Stars held on as best they could, working on the boards and getting to loose pucks and showing the hustle they had during the winning streak.
Yet no one was better on the ice tonight than Marty Turco.
With several big saves in overtime during a two minute 4 on 3 penalty kill and and two absolutely out of this world saves in the shootout, Turco once again put this team on his back carried them to a win.
The victory puts the Stars back into 5th place in the West and stopped what could have been a disastrous slide down the standings. You never like to give up a point to a team you're fighting with for playoff position, but the Stars will take any two points they can get.
Notes/thoughts on the game:
- Brad Richards left the ice during the second period with what seemed to be a hand injury after getting slammed into the boards. He did not return to the game and hopefully we get word on his condition tomorrow.
- If I could give four stars for the game, Mark Fistric would be the extra one. He showed tonight why the Stars need him on the ice and why the need him confident and solid. He made several great plays tonight against Rick Nash and also perfectly played a partial breakaway to negate any type of scoring chance. He has certainly improved during his time in the AHL.
- Is James Neal good or what? Wow. He was a wrecking ball on the ice tonight.
BW's three stars of the game:
Marty Turco, Dallas: 41 of 43 saves on the night, four in overtime and two incredible stops in the shootout. He was also dastardly with the puck, foiling the Blue Jackets on numerous occasions with his puck-handling greatness. Also made a key play along the boards that led to the Stars' game-tying goal.
R.J. Umberger, Columbus: Was a man on a mission, scoring two goals on seven shots. Could have had four if not for Turco and one broken stick.
James Neal, Dallas: Had the lone goal in the shootout and was not afraid to throw his body around. Has really learned how to use his size to create chances.