BLUE JACKETS (27-23-5) at STARS (31-18-6)
TV — FS-Ohio (HD), FS-Southwest (HD)
Last 10 — Columbus 6-3-1; Dallas 4-5-1.
Season series — The two Western Conference foes meet for the third time this season. Columbus earned a 3-2 shootout victory in the first go-around, while Dallas prevailed, 2-1, in the next meeting.
Big story — Dallas will look to complete a three-game homestand on a winning note when Columbus comes to town. So far, the Stars have earned three out of a possible four points and have the chance to extend that before traveling west for three straight games. Meanwhile, Columbus aims for their fifth straight win away from home ice and build on a recent 4-1-0 stretch against one of the Western Conference's strongest teams.
Blue Jackets — Four points out of the eighth spot in the West, the Blue Jackets have clung on with strong play on the road and an impressive 10-game stretch in which the team has gone 6-3-1. Most recently, the Jackets came out on top with a solid 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, a game that marked the return of Peter Forsberg. Not distracted by Colorado’s emotions, the Jackets stuck to the system that's helped them stick around in a competitive Western Conference.
"We played really well," goalie Mathieu Garon said. "We were disciplined. I think we only had one penalty kill which was huge for us. In the second and third period, we had control of the game. They had shots but we had guys there to clear the rebounds."
Coach Scott Arniel added "that was a good, physical, hard game for 60 minutes." A similar effort will need to be put together against a strong Stars club.
Stars — The Stars haven't been feeling quite as comfortable with their place atop the Pacific Division, particularly after a 1-3-1 recent stretch, but have the lead nevertheless and showed their toughness with a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night. Whatever momentum the Stars collected from the game in which they trailed 3-0 and eventually won should carry over when Columbus skates in to town in what will be the final game of a three-game homestand.
"It was huge," Brad Richards said of the win. "We're going through a little patch here that hasn't been fun. We're down 3-0 in a sold out building and it wasn’t too pretty for a bit. We've done that a lot t his year. People around us have maybe started to doubt but we in here, we keep plugging away."
Who's hot — Richards has led the way for the Stars all season and has continued to do so of late, posting five points in his past five games. Meanwhile, the Jackets have relied on the strong play of Rick Nash, who earned two-point nights in two of his past three games.
Injury report — Dallas' Kyle Barch is day-to-day with an eye injury, while Columbus' Derek Dorsett is out indefinitely with a head injury.
Stat pack — If Columbus best Dallas, it will have as many wins on the road as at home (14).
Puck drop — Richards on the recent uplifting victory and what it could mean moving forward for the Stars:
"It's not ideal how we did it [against Chicago]. Maybe it'll get us back going."