After falling in overtime to the Boston Bruins last night, the Dallas Stars hoped to cap off their road trip with a bang against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Instead, they got beaten handedly by a superior Columbus squad to finish the trip 3-2-1.
The Stars looked like a team that had played the night before, struggling to get into the offensive zone in the first period and getting badly outshot in the first two. Had it not been for two consecutive penalties to open up the final frame, the Stars probably would have never gotten on the board. Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky looked like his regular Vezina-calibre self, stopping almost everything that came his way.
The Stars will head back home with an 8-6-1 record, still in the thick of the playoff race. The Stars take on the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, who currently sit in a very similar situation.
The Stars struggled to get past the blue line at first, but quickly began to establish some decent possession in the offensive zone. Jason Spezza in particular had a fantastic deke and pass to the front of the net, which would have been an easy tap-in had Mattias Janmark not been tied up. Despite all of this, the Stars only had a single shot on goal in the first five minutes.
That offensive presence did not last long, however. Columbus began to get ample time in the the Stars’ zone and began peppering Ben Bishop, including a sequence where Ben Bishop lost his stick and had to have it retrieved by Roman Polak. Tyler Seguin and Gemel Smith had some decent chances that were stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky, but otherwise the Stars were being severely outshot by the Blue Jackets.
Late in the period, Julius Honka took a roughing penalty when he attacked Boone Jenner, who got a little too close to Bishop after the whistle for Honka’s liking. Anthony Duclair would proceed take advantage of a screen by Jenner and score the only goal of the period, breaking a 0-for-21 power play slump for the Blue Jackets.
Score: Dallas 0, Columbus 1
Shots: Dallas 8, Columbus 16
The middle frame started a bit more evenly, with the Stars and Blue Jackets trading chances back and forth through the first half of the period. Unlike Dallas, however, Columbus was able to convert on their opportunities, going up 2-0 thanks to a Markus Nutivaara shot that deflected off of Honka and into the net.
Honka would soon try to redeem himself with a beautiful cross-ice pass off the rush to Blake Comeau, but Bobrovsky stood strong yet again. About a minute later, Cam Atkinson leveled Miro Heiskanen with a questionably legal hit, which spurned Roman Polak to try to stand up for his rookie defensive partner.
Unfortunately, Polak drew a slashing penalty as a result, and while the Blue Jackets failed to score on the power play — though Duclair might have scored again had it not been for a solid stick-block by Esa Lindell — Nick Foligno netted a one-timer not long after the penalty expired.
Justin Dowling and Jamie Benn would get some chances to attempt to reduce the deficit, but they failed to convert, leaving the Stars in a big hole after two.
Score: Dallas 0, Columbus 3
Shots: Dallas 18, Columbus 29
Momentum began to shift almost immediately as Jenner got called for interference just 20 seconds into the third. The Stars failed to score on the power play, but Brandon Dubinsky got an interference penalty of his own 20 seconds after Jenner’s expired. Benn and Heiskanen then proceeded to take Columbus to school with an excellent give-and-go that saw the puck go across the ice from Benn to Heiskanen and back to Benn again. Benn sniped the puck into the net to finally put the Stars on the board.
A little more than halfway through the third, the Blue Jackets got a chance to respond with their own power play, courtesy of a slash by Janmark. The Stars killed the penalty, and later with 5:29 left in the third, Jim Montgomery pulled Bishop for the extra attacker. After a flurry of offensive opportunities by the Stars, Ryan Murray potted the empty net with 1:54 left, nearly two and a half minutes after Bishop was initially pulled, which sealed the Columbus victory.
Final Score: Dallas 1, Columbus 4
Final Shots: Dallas 28, Columbus 34