The Stars continued a troubling trend since play resumed following the Olympic break, suffering from another slow start with slow feet and once again found themselves down three goals before they finally recovered. Boone Jenner, RJ Umberger and Artem Anisimov all scored for the Blue Jackets in the first period, two of which were goals Dan Ellis will really want back upon further review.
Columbus dominated possession and the scoreboard through the first period, and took advantage of a sleepy Stars team that seemed disinterested in skating or competing for the puck. The tide would start to turn in the second period, however, as the Stars took advantage of a retreating Blue Jackets team that seemed content to sit on a three-goal lead and stack a crowd around Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Stars outshot the Blue Jackets 12-1 in the middle frame, with Columbus not getting a shot on goal until there were less than two minutes remaining the second. Unfortunately, those shots weren't exactly of the "prime scoring chance" variety.
Average distance on Dallas' 12 second-period shots: 41 feet.— DefendingBigD (@DefendingBigD) March 5, 2014
While the Stars might not have fully penetrated the Columbus defenses in the second period, they were able to use the strong play to seize momentum and carry it into the third period. The Stars finally took advantage of a Columbus penalty and scored on the power play for the second straight game, when Alex Goligoski finished down low off a rebound -- similar to his goal against Buffalo.
Trevor Daley would find the net with a hard shot from the point just two minutes later, taking advantage of another brilliant Alex Chiasson screen in front of the goalie. The Stars would keep the pressure up and put up another five shots before Columbus put a puck on Dan Ellis, allowing just two shots in just over 30 minutes of play.
The comeback proved fruitless, however, as the Stars were unable to further solve Bobrovsky before finally allowing the backbreaking goal with just over four minutes remaining in regulation. It was another goal that Ellis might want to have back, but credit to Artem Anisimov for making a great play on a backhand goal.
The Stars responded to the goal with a massive offensive push in the final minutes, but once again were unable to execute and finish on prime chances when needed.
Once again, the Stars were the better team overall but another slow start proved fateful once more. It's great to see the Stars able to respond to adversity and show as much fight as they did, but in the fight for the playoffs moral victories won't get them very far. This one may hurt in the end.
** The Stars have shot totals of 33, 39, 41, and 34 since coming back from the Olympic break, and have healthily outshot their opponent in every game. The fancy stats will tell you that the Stars dominated these games as well and likely came out on top of scoring chance in each game. Yet, the Stars are just 2-2-0 since coming back from the break -- including a pair of twin 4-2 losses that each began by allowing three straight goals before finally waking up.
Those shot totals only equal 11 goals, however, good for just a measly 7.4 team shooting percentage since the break on 147 shots. The Stars are putting the rubber on the net, yet are failing to execute in tight and a good number of these shots are coming from distance as the Stars work on alternate means to get the puck to the net since their normal speed game wasn't working.
* Alex Chiasson had another strong game and once again was a beast around the net, yet once again can't seem to actually finish when the puck is on his stick within three feet of the goal. He's also lucky he wasn't called for goalie interference on Daley's goal, when he was clearly well inside the crease and backed up against Bobrovsky.
** Aaron Rome played just 4:58 in the game, and did not hit the ice after the first period. Rome was on the bench, so no word on an actual injury; it seems as though Lindy Ruff was sending a message after a very rough first period for the defenseman.
** Ruff shortened his bench significantly in the third period, playing Shawn Horcoff and Chris Mueller sparingly. Val Nichuchkin still managed 14:30 of ice time and finished with four hits in what as a bit of an uneven performance until the third period for the rookie.
** Finally, Happy 19th Birthday to Big Val. Too bad you're in America, so enjoy that ginger ale.