BLUE JACKETS AT STARS
WEDNESDAY, 8:30 P.M.
AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 3 | STARS 1
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: A scoreless second period comes to close in Dallas, but the Jackets maintain their 3-0 lead over the Stars. There were some quality chances exchanged on both sides, and Tim Thomas made a couple of top-notch stops to make sure the Columbus lead remained at three goals. At the other end, Bobrovsky held the fort for the Jackets and kept the Stars at bay - especially late in the period - and the Jackets will have a penalty to kill off to begin the third period. Shots are 23-16 favoring the Jackets after 40 minutes at American Airlines Center.
WATCH: Mark Letestu's PPG makes it 3-0 Jackets! | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Artem Anisimov gives the Jackets a 2-0 lead! | CLICK TO WATCH
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: This was a hard game to figure out, with the early 1-0 lead for Columbus and both teams having played a game last night. But tonight, it was the Jackets who got it started early and scored a goal less than 90 seconds in (Artem Anisimov's 22nd of the season) and then got a power play goal at the tail end of a double minor high-sticking penalty. Mark Letestu centered the puck from the goal line, a pass intended for Boone Jenner, but it appeared to ricochet off a Stars defenseman and behind Tim Thomas to make it 3-0 Jackets. The Stars open the second period on a power play (Letestu for delay of game at 19:55), and shots in the opening period were 12-8 in favor of the Jackets.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets arrived in Dallas late last night, and their next task is a Wednesday night game against the Stars. The team is not expected to hold a formal morning skate, but we'll have complete coverage for you here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Stars, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, Nathan Horton's return from a lower body injury was short-lived; he left last night's game vs. Phoenix in the second period and did not return. His status for anything beyond Wednesday's game is unknown, but he will not play in Dallas (where he's already been credited with a goal).
On defense, the Blue Jackets are likely to stick with their same group of six but they did re-shuffle pairings on Tuesday: Johnson-Tyutin, Murray-Wisniewski, and a couple of other combinations were used with Dalton Prout and also David Savard seeing time on the back end.
No decision on a starting goaltender has been announced.
The scenario is pretty cut and dry for the Blue Jackets: win and you're in.
With two points tonight in Dallas, they'll clinch their second playoff berth in franchise history. Last night's overtime win over the Coyotes put them one step closer, and now, they have an opportunity to wrap it up by taking two points with them to Florida later this week.
They'll be playing their third game in four nights but don't remind them; they've been in playoff mode for two months now, facing a string of must-win games to stay in the race and they are locked in on their goal. In fact, Richards said after Tuesday's game that he wants his players to remain focused and looking "up," which is to say he wants them to collect as many points as they can in the final week of the regular season and then see what happens.
Do remember that tonight's game is the makeup game for a rescheduled Mar. 10 contest after Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench in the first period. Nathan Horton, who will not play for Columbus in this game, remains credited a first period power play goal and that's how the 60-minute game will begin: the Jackets start with a 1-0 lead but a full length game will be played.
And much like Tuesday, there is a lot on the line for the Jackets' opponent. The Stars hold a two-point edge on the Coyotes for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference and both teams have three games remaining; Dallas is coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville last night at home, and they are just as desperate for points as Columbus.
AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
FRIDAY, 7:30 P.M.
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