When Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella told the media that he wanted his team to focus on getting back to structured basics earlier today, I thought it might not bode well for the Dallas Stars.
After all, they’ve struggled a bit playing against teams that play that style this season. Coming off of a 6-0 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks at home on New Year’s Eve, and in the midst of a big home stand, this game had all the markings of a “trap game” — one easily overlooked on the schedule.
It turned out that feeling was spot on, as the Stars fell to the Blue Jackets 2-1 tonight.
There wasn’t much to write home about in the first period. Both teams seemed to take the first period as a bit of a feeling out process, with the Stars looking like they were still recovering from their New Year’s Eve shenanigans early on. The Blue Jackets may have spent more time in the offensive zone, but the Stars did a good job of limiting chances to perimeter shots or breaking up passing lanes with sticks to put a damper on any real offensive threats. Columbus did much of the same to Dallas when they eventually got their legs under them as the period went along, but neither team found the back of the net.
Much of the same occurred in the second period, though the Stars looked more dangerous in that frame than they did in the first. Both Ben Bishop and Sergei Bobrovsky were fantastic when they needed to be, and the game appeared to be heading towards a 0-0 result as the teams hit the last 20 minutes of regulation.
Then, the game broke open.
John Klingberg sent a bomb from the point towards the net that bounced off of Devin Shore’s stick to open the scoring just 44 seconds into the period. It seemed that the Stars were finally going to get on a roll. However, after Bobrovsky shut down a few good chances by Dallas, the Blue Jackets punched through Bishop’s five-plus period shutout streak.
Oliver Bjorkstrand would score two goals within about a minute and a half of one another. The first was a bit of a sharp angle goal that went right over Bishop’s blocker side shoulder. The second goal was one that you could look at and say that should have never gone in. The shot found the tiniest of space between Bishop’s glove side shoulder and the goal post, a small space that Bishop didn’t seal off.
The Stars kept pressuring on offense and came close to tying the game in the dying minutes of the period. However, last season’s Vezina winner flashed his brilliance and easily shut the Stars down.
It’s the first game in six games that the Stars were held to just one goal. They’ll look to get back in the win column when they continue their six game home stand on Thursday, which will see one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams on their only stop in Dallas this season (the New Jersey Devils). So far, the Stars are 2-1 on the home stand — and they’ll be hungry to make that 3-1 and continue their home ice dominance.