The Blue Jackets earned a 3-2 victory vs. Dallas on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.
Game in a Paragraph
It was mostly a defense-first affair between two teams searching for points in Dallas, with neither team generating much in the first 20 minutes and Columbus leading 1-0 after two periods. The third period opened up, though, as the Blue Jackets scored twice in short order only to see a Dallas team that had been struggling for goals do the same. But the Jackets battened down the hatches from there in the last nine minutes and sealed the win.
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "I thought we got back forechecking and for the most part I thought we played a really good game -- defended really well, killed some penalties. That's a good solid win for us."
- After notching 11 goals a year ago, Boone Jenner tallied his eighth goal of the season and fifth in the last 11 games. He also added an assist and was 11-6 at the faceoff dot while making a team-high four hits.
- Joonas Korpisalomade 22 saves in his second consecutive win. He has allowed just nine goals in his last five starts.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand added his seventh goal of the year for the Jackets, while Eric Robinson added his fourth.
Video: Jenner earns two points in win 3-2 over Stars
The first period didn't feature much offense from either side, with shots on goal tied at 5-5 after a frame and both teams going through a largely uneventful power play. Columbus' best chance came early on a rebound but Jack Roslovic was denied by Anton Khodubin, while Korpisalo also made a sharp pad save on a Blake Comeau shot on a transition chance.
The second period featured more threatening attacks from each side, starting early, when Nick Foligno shot a puck and Jenner tipped it off the crossbar behind Khudobin. Late in the period, the two hooked up on a goal, though, as Foligno got the puck deep and Jenner scored an impressive tally. The longtime CBJ forward hit Andrej Sekera in the corner, came out with the puck, deked to the net and quickly snapped off a shot that beat Khudobin between the legs to make it 1-0 with 1:49 left in the period.
Between those moments, there were chances for each team, including a shot just high by Columbus' Patrik Laine in transition, while Roslovic prevented what appeared to be a sure goal when he tipped a puck away from Joel Kiviranta, and Korpisalo denied both Comeau and Denis Gurianov on quick transition chances.
Columbus finally got some separation with two goals in the first four-plus minutes of the third. Bjorkstrand started the party, as a Stars misplay gave him the puck all alone at the front of the net, and The Maestro had plenty of time to pick his spot and beat Khudobin past the blocker at 2:23.
Just 1:42 later, the Jackets made it 3-0 as Robinson got his tally to conclude a shift in which the Blue Jackets' buzzing forecheck forced a number of Dallas turnovers. Gabriel Carlsson got the puck to Jenner at the blue line, and his shot just touched off the skate of Robinson in front of the net and slid through the legs of Khudobin at 4:05.
But Dallas found a lifeline as its more than 189-minute goalless streak ended, and the Stars capitalized on that momentum to score twice in just over three minutes to make it 3-2. First, Miro Heiskanen's shot from the right point fluttered through traffic and by Korpisalo to make it 3-1 at 7:35, then at 10:48, a long Dallas shift in the CBJ zone ended when Jason Robertson found a loose puck in front and beat Korpisalo.
Columbus settled down from there, though, and brought the win home with the help of a late penalty on the Stars and some strong forechecking.
1. Getting the forecheck going: Let's start there, as the last minute or so of the game was pretty illustrative of how the night went. Dallas' had that penalty end with 1:18 on the clock, but Columbus spent the next minute hemming the Stars -- who were desperately trying to get up the ice and get Khudobin off for a chance to tie the game -- into their own zone. That kind of forecheck was present for longer stretches than we've seen, and all three CBJ goals came when the Jackets were able to force turnovers in the Dallas zone and then create offense from there. "We were close," Tortorella said of the forecheck. "We weren't spread out. We weren't in between. We stayed on top of things there and we weren't great, but I thought we had better minutes at it." Bjorkstrand, who benefitted greatly from one Stars turnover on his goal, agreed. "It's part of our identity we've developed over the years," he said. "So it's nice that those type of goals go in the net."
2. Better structure: At least until things got a bit wild with four goals in the opening 11 minutes of the third period, it probably wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing hockey game of all time, but that's not a bad thing for the Blue Jackets right now. After a stretch in which the Blue Jackets gave up 42 goals in a 10-game span, they've allowed 10 in the last five contests. Even I can do that math -- they've gone from 4.20 goals per game to 2.00, a pretty solid improvement. In that span, Korpisalo has allowed just nine goals, a nice respite for someone who had to have a bit of shell-shock when the goals were coming in flurries. With defensive improvement has come some pretty solid play out of Korpisalo, who senses a bit of zen between himself and his defensemen. "We feed off each other," he said. "That's what team sports is. We work together for a common goal."
3. Surviving a push: At 3-0, it seemed like the Blue Jackets were going to waltz to a second straight easy win, but as any Columbus fan knows, it's not always that easy. Dallas' put two in quickly, and that lead suddenly started to feel a bit dicey. Tortorella said he considered calling a timeout, but he knew the next whistle would lead to a TV timeout, so he decided to trust his players and ride it out. Suffice it to say it worked as the Blue Jackets steadied themselves over the last nine minutes. "I thought we settled in," Tortorella said. "I think that's a really important few minutes for us as we keep pushing forward during the season." In fact, the Stars didn't have a shot on goal after the Robertson tally that made it 3-2. Said Bjorkstrand: "I thought we just came together as a team, buckled up a little bit and got back to our game."
With his goal, Boone Jenner now has 121 in his career, moving into fourth place all alone in CBJ career annals. He had been tied at 120 with RJ Umberger (2009-14). … CBJ forward Max Domi played in his 400th NHL game. … Columbus has scored first in an NHL-best 18 of 25 games and four in a row, improving to 8-6-4 in those games. … Columbus has won seven of its last eight games in Dallas and is 10-1-0 in the last 11 games of the overall series. ... Joe Pavelski got an assist on the first Stars goal, giving him a 2-4-6 line vs. Columbus in three games this year. ... Dallas, which had been shut out in its previous two games at Tampa Bay, has just 19 goals in its last 11 games. ... A Stars power play that was 3-for-6 vs. Columbus in the series earlier this year -- a strong departure from the last six years when the Dallas power play was just 1-for-33 against the Jackets -- was 0-for-2 in this game. The Blue Jackets were also 0-for-2.
The Blue Jackets made no changes to the 18-skater lineup, using the same lineup for the fifth game in a row. Scratches were forward Mikhail Grigorenko as well as defensemen Dean Kukan and Scott Harrington.
Columbus plays the second game of the series vs. Dallas on Saturday night at 8 p.m. before turning home for a four-game homestand vs. Florida and Dallas.