Simply put - the Blue Jackets probably deserved a better fate tonight.
Following a 4-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night at American Airlines Center, Columbus coach Scott Arniel went back and looked at game tape to figure out how the Blue Jackets could better attack Dallas’ scheme.
They executed their plan tonight despite dropping a 3-2 decision to the Stars, their second meeting together in four days. The Blue Jackets put 40 shots on goal against a Dallas team built around a four-man neutral zone alignment, and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan spread the ice time around to keep the energy up for that style. For the majority of the game, the Stars were content to allow the Blue Jackets to dump the puck into the zone and retrieve it.
Columbus amped up the forecheck but could not beat Kari Lehtonen more than twice. Dallas’ goaltender was terrific – named the game’s No. 1 star – and made 38 saves, several of which were outstanding.
The Blue Jackets received goals from Derick Brassard and Kris Russell tonight, the former scoring a huge power-play goal midway through the third period to cut the Stars 2-0 lead in half. The one-goal margin would last for less than 90 seconds, as Michael Ryder tipped a Sheldon Souray slap shot between Steve Mason’s legs for a 3-1 Dallas lead just 6:27 into the third period.
Russell’s goal was a beauty. He skated the puck through neutral ice and meandered his way through the Dallas defense into the high slot, where he uncorked a slap shot that beat Lehtonen low to the glove side. With 2:55 left in regulation, it provided the Blue Jackets an enormous lift and the Nationwide Arena crowd was alive again.
Lehtonen stood tall in the final minutes as the Blue Jackets applied the full-court press. Antoine Vermette and Alexandre Giroux narrowly missed chances for the tying goal, and Vinny Prospal sent a puck just over the crossbar with less than 60 seconds to play. It was the sixth consecutive loss to open the season for the Blue Jackets (0-5-1), tied for the longest winless stretch to begin a season in franchise history.
The Blue Jackets were the more physical and aggressive team in the first 10 minutes tonight. Their forecheck again caused trouble for the Stars defense, and they nearly scored the first goal of the game.
Defenseman Aaron Johnson, playing his second game of the season for Columbus, joined an odd-man situation in the Dallas zone and fired a one-time shot toward Lehtonen. Derek Dorsett was in the goal crease and made contact briefly with Lehtonen before the puck arrived. Johnson’s shot squeaked through Lehtonen and into the net, but referees Chris Lee and Brian Pochmara emphatically waved off the goal.
They said Dorsett caused incidental contact with the goaltender, but no penalty was called on the play. Columbus had generated a lot of momentum early in the game and thought it had capitalized on an ideal start, but the disallowed goal took some wind out of the sails.
-Elevated to the top line for tonight’s game in the absence of Jeff Carter (foot), Derick Brassard made an impact in his return to center. He scored the Blue Jackets’ power-play goal in the third period thanks to persistence on a rebound, and used his speed to back off the Stars defenseman on several occasions. He finished with 18:42 – a season-high for Brassard – and tallied four shots on goal with nearly three minutes of power play duty.
-Another game, another workmanlike effort from Fedor Tyutin. He led all players in total ice time tonight (24:37) and also fired four shots on goal. He was responsible for a couple of excellent scoring chances on the power play, pinching down low to keep plays alive in the attacking zone. Tyutin also logged 1:53 on the penalty kill, helping to keep the Stars power play off the board.
-Despite not showing up on the scoreboard, Vinny Prospal was one of the most effective players on the ice for either side. His line with Vermette and Giroux combined for 13 shots on goal, with Prospal leading the pack (5). His playmaking ability on the half-wall and down low has made the Blue Jackets offense stronger this season, and there’s a reason why he leads the club in several offensive categories.
-Wild day for Mathieu Corbeil. The Blue Jackets have injuries to goaltenders Mark Dekanich (ankle), Curtis Sanford (undisclosed) and Allen York (shoulder), meaning they had to recall Corbeil from Saint John of the QMJHL on an emergency basis. Per the rules of the NHL-CHL agreement, Corbeil can only stay with the Blue Jackets for 24 hours before being returned to his junior club.
-Cody Bass made his Blue Jackets debut tonight after being recalled from Springfield (AHL) yesterday. He made his presence felt in a first-period scrap with Dallas’ Jake Dowell, and it ignited the Blue Jackets bench after the disallowed goal. Bass was credited with two hits in 6:25 of ice time.
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Joe Louis Arena | Detroit, MI
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com