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Stars shoot for sweep of struggling Blue Jackets

by Brian Hunter /
STARS (4-1-0) at BLUE JACKETS (0-4-1)


Season Series:
Second of four meetings and the conclusion of a home-and-home which began Saturday with the Stars doubling up the Blue Jackets, 4-2, in Dallas. Sheldon Souray's first NHL goal since Jan. 20, 2010, broke a tie 1:36 into the third period.

Big Story: Is five games too early to get frustrated? Not when you're Columbus and expected to contend for just the second playoff berth in franchise history after making a number of big moves during the offseason, the biggest of which was acquiring goal-scorer Jeff Carter to play on the top line with captain Rick Nash. Not only have the Blue Jackets lost their first five games, Carter is now nursing a slight fracture on the top of his right foot and could be sidelined Tuesday.

"We're hoping it won’t be too long," coach Scott Arniel told the Columbus Dispatch. "We might get him back for the weekend. The ones on top you can sometimes play through."

Team Scope:

Stars: The Glen Gulutzan era in Dallas is off to a flying start, as the Stars have won four of their first five games. After veterans Brenden Morrow and Loui Eriksson erased a pair of one-goal deficits against the Jackets on Saturday, it was a pair of newcomers who took over in the third. Souray, who spent all of last season in the AHL, blasted a puck past Steve Mason to put the Stars in front and Michael Ryder, a free-agent signing after he won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins, added his first of the season, a power-play goal with 6:08 remaining.

"I think we made another small step today in what we kind of need to do to make sure we are developing ourselves as a team that has an identity," Gulutzan said. "And today, I think we played 60 pretty good minutes."

Blue Jackets: Slow starts can be nearly impossible to overcome -- just ask teams like the Devils and Islanders, who were among the best in the NHL the second half of last season but didn't make the playoffs because they buried themselves in the first couple months. Columbus still has more than enough time to turn its fortunes around, but a hot streak will be required at some point and in order for that to happen the Blue Jackets must begin by simply winning a game. They get a second shot at the Stars, who are a perfect 4-0-0 at home this season.

"They're a team that works hard; they finish every check," Nash said. "We've got to capitalize on our special teams and dig deep -- we're a desperate team right now that needs a win."
Who's Hot:
Eriksson has goals in three straight games. Mike Ribeiro hasn't scored a goal yet, but he set up three goals Saturday and leads the Stars in scoring with 5 points. Kari Lehtonen is 4-0-0 in goal with a 1.48 goals-against average and League-leading .955 save percentage. … Vinny Prospal scored his team-leading third goal for the Blue Jackets on Saturday, and his 5 points tie Nash for first.

Injury Report:
Carter is day-to-day for Columbus, while goalie Mark Dekanich (sprained ankle) and forwards Kristian Huselius (pectoral surgery) and Jared Boll (broken thumb) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Ribeiro earned his 500th career point in the Stars' last game, while Jamie Benn picked up an assist to reach 100 career points and become the youngest player in team history to reach the milestone at 22 years, 89 days. It broke Morrow's old mark of 23 years, 46 days. … Alexandre Giroux, an 11-year AHL veteran who has had seasons of 60, 50 and 42 goals at that level but only managed to crack NHL lineups for 39 games over parts of five previous seasons, made his debut with the Blue Jackets in Saturday's game and scored his sixth career goal.

Puck Drop:
Second-year Columbus coach Scott Arniel has a clear idea of what he wants to see from his players, and the first matchup against Dallas didn't provide nearly enough of it.

"We wanted to play a competitive, feisty game," Arniel said, "and we didn't have a whole lot of people that wanted to do that."

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