The Blue Jackets battled back and didn’t lie down after trailing 3-0 in the second period, but their most significant loss came in the form of more injuries tonight.
Despite facing an opponent playing for its postseason life and starting the game on the wrong foot, the Blue Jackets put together a spirited rally in the final 40 minutes and came up one shot short in a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars before 15,932 at Nationwide Arena. The Stars came out hungry and put a bevy of pucks on goaltender Curtis Sanford, breaking the scoreless tie just 95 seconds into the game on Jamie Benn’s 16th goal of the season.
Columbus was in the midst of a long shift and turned the puck over to Stephane Robidas, who took a shot that befuddled Sanford and the rebound dropped in the slot. Benn was there to spin, turn and roof it over Sanford’s glove for a 1-0 lead.
Alex Goligoski was the benefactor of a terrible injury to Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot at 4:21 of the first period. Tomas Vincour’s shot hit Methot in the face – breaking his jaw and leaving a rebound in the crease for Goligoski to sweep in for a two-goal lead. Robidas made it a 3-0 game at 1:09 of the second period on a point blast just as a Blue Jackets penalty expired.
Vinny Prospal tipped in Fedor Tyutin’s shot at 8:32 of the second to get the Blue Jackets on the board and start their rally. Less than four minutes later, Derick Brassard feathered a perfect feed across the slot to Rick Nash, who cashed his team-leading 18th of the season to bring Columbus within a goal.
With the extra attacker on and less than a minute to play, the Blue Jackets came close on several chances – including near-misses by Jeff Carter and Nash in close. Lehtonen shut the door for the Stars, making 26 saves for his fifth career win against the Blue Jackets.
Though they did not get the win tonight, the Blue Jackets’ play in the second period after Robidas scored fueled their comeback in the second half of the game. It’s not easy to play against a trapping team like Dallas while trailing by three goals, but Columbus got pucks in deep and forced the Stars defense to work hard to keep possession. The Blue Jackets had to get momentum off their forecheck, and they took it to another level in the middle frame.
Prospal snapped a 12-game goalless skid with his 10th of the season tonight. He had last scored Jan. 8 at Anaheim. He has points in four-straight games (1-3-4) after being held pointless the previous nine games.
Nash snapped a five-game goalless skid with his 18th of the season. He had last scored Jan. 23 at Nashville. He has points in three-straight games (1-2-3) and has 5-4-9 the last 15 games. He has scored 14 goals the last 35 games after being held to four goals the first 19 games of the season. In 33 career games against the Stars, he has 18-9-27.
Brassard registered assists on both goals, his first multi-assist game since Dec. 22 at Nashville, a span of 19 games. He has collected 5-6-11 the last 15 games and 7-9-16 the last 22 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
Tyutin also had two assists on the night, his first multi-point outing since notching three assists Dec. 18 at St. Louis, a span of 20 games. In 296 games with the Blue Jackets, he has tallied 25-90-115 compared to 15-52-67 in 251 games with the NY Rangers.
Antoine Vermette won 8-of-10 face-offs (80.0 percent) on the night. He has won 71 of his last 114 face-offs (62.3 percent) the last seven games. He entered the night ranked eighth in the NHL in face-off win percentage.
vs. Minnesota Wild
Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, Minn.
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com