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FINAL: Stars 5, Blue Jackets 1

Gavrikov scores as Columbus completes season series against the Stars

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets dropped a 5-1 final to Dallas on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. 

Game in a Paragraph 

Columbus yet again took an early lead only to see Dallas tie the score in the first, then four goals in a span of 5:30 by the Stars in the second period turned what had been a competitive game into a blowout. The loss dropped Columbus to 2-10-2 in its last 14 games. 

Quote of the Game

Cam Atkinson: "I thought we played a really good first period and then for whatever reason, we just kind of take our foot off the gas pedal. I keep saying it, but that's what happens. It seems like we go from playing on our toes and trying to make plays and get in hard on the forechecking to just kind of sitting back."

CBJ Standouts 
  • Vladislav Gavrikov scored his second goal of the season and his first since Jan. 23.  
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand notched an assist, giving him a team-high 33 points. 

Video: Blue Jackets, 1 - Stars, 5

Quick Recap 

Each team had some notable chances early, with CBJ goalie Joonas Korpisalo having to make two big early stops, denying Blake Comeau just a minute into the game from the doorstep and stopping Rhett Gardner on a breakaway. Dallas' Jake Oettinger also was good early, making a save on Alexandre Texier on a shorthanded 2-on-1. 

But the teams did trade goals in the period, starting with Columbus getting on the board at 6:06 with Gavrikov's goal. Atkinson fed Oliver Bjorkstrand at the blue line, with The Maestro deking past Nick Caamano to get into space along the right wing and centering a pass that Gavrikov tipped home from the top of the crease to make it 1-0. 

Dallas had the response at 12:35, as captain Jamie Benn got on the board. John Klingberg flipped a puck from the neutral zone on Korpisalo, who fought off the bouncing puck only to see Benn follow the play and bat the rebound into the net to tie the score at 1. 

The Stars then took a 2-1 lead just past the midway point of the second, as Denis Gurianov scored at 10:10 to give Dallas the advantage. It came on the rush, as Gurianov fed Benn as the trailer on an odd-man rush, and Benn returned the pass to allow Gurianov to score into the open net past the sprawled Korpisalo from the right circle.  

Then, a pair of goals in a 20-second span gave the Stars a 4-1 lead and spelled the end of the night for Korpisalo. First Joe Pavelski tallied on a spinning backhander in the slot on a shot that Korpisalo never saw at 13:14. Moments later, the Stars earned a 2-on-1 after Patrik Laine lost his stick and Andrew Peeke lost his footing, as John Klingberg's centering pass went off the stick of Scott Harrington and through the legs of Korpisalo. 

Elvis Merzlikins came into the game in relief of Korpisalo, but Dallas tallied three minutes into his tenure when Esa Lindell made it 5-1 at 16:40, completing a long shift in the CBJ zone by scoring from the slot.  

The third period was largely academic, though Eric Robinson did get a good look only to be denied by Oettinger.

3 Takeaways

1. This is reality now: After four straight seasons of making the playoffs, the Blue Jackets are used to playing meaningful hockey at this time of year. Instead, the recent trades and injuries have made it clear the Jackets playing out the string, and it's fair to say it's a difficult reality for the team. Add in all the restrictions brought on by the pandemic and it's not a great feeling to be going through what the Jackets are going through right now, and it's fair to say that's being reflected in the team's play. A short John Tortorella didn't have much to say postgame, noting, "There's not much else to talk about," after the first few questions. Translated: It is what it is right now.

2. Same mistakes, different game: This game looked familiar to Blue Jackets fans, as Oettinger had to make just 21 saves as yet again the Jackets didn't trouble him enough. Mistakes snowballed, as the four-goal outburst in the latter half of the second period showed the Jackets are still having issues giving up goals at key moments of the game. Players who are counted on to lead the way struggled, as Laine and Max Domi each finished minus-4, and Domi didn't play in the third period after taking a 10-minute misconduct late in the second. The second period continued to be a disaster, as the Jackets have been outscored 57-33 in the frame this season. "It's hard to give you a good answer," Bjorkstrand said on that latter stat, but it could have gone for some of the other errors that have consistently makred this season. 

3. New guys have ups, downs: The biggest thing to watch down the stretch will be the play of some young or new Jackets who are trying to make an impact and audition for next year. It was another solid showing for rookie Josh Dunne, who signed a few weeks ago and now has two games under his belt. For the second time in as many games, Dunne had the best xGF% of any CBJ player at 5-on-5, and in fact he was the only Jacket above 50 percent in that measure of shot quality and quantity. On the other end of the spectrum was Mikko Lehtonen, who was given the chance to play with Seth Jones on the top pair; the recently acquired Finnish defenseman unfortunately was on the ice for 21 shot attempts for Dallas at 5-on-5 and just four for Columbus. Lehtonen will have better days, to be sure, but this is all part of the learning process down the stretch.

Notable 

Michael Del Zotto played in his 700th career NHL game. … Columbus scored first for the fourth game in a row and 28th time this season in 46 games but is just 12-9-7 in those games. … Five of Gurianov's nine goals this year have come against the Blue Jackets, while Pavelski finished the season with six goals in eight games vs. Columbus. … Oettinger improved to 5-0-1 vs. the Blue Jackets this year. ... The season series between the teams ended with Columbus holding a 3-4-1 record. 

Roster Report 

Columbus made a pair of changes to the lineup, inserting forward Ryan MacInnis and defenseman Lehtonen in place of Kole Sherwood and Dean Kukan. Other healthy scratches were Kevin Stenlund and Gabriel Carlsson. 

Up Next 

Columbus heads to the Sunshine State for a pair of games Monday and Tuesday against the Panthers. 

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