Some unlikely goal scorers just came through for the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets.
One night later, these teams will probably hope the scoring load will shift to their stars in Tuesday night’s interconference matchup between playoff contenders in Columbus.
Dallas (29-22-10) holds the eighth seed in the Western Conference and Columbus (31-25-5) is one point out of a playoff spot in the East as both teams finish back-to-back sets with the first of two meetings in six days.
The Stars saw two skaters end lengthy goal droughts in Monday’s 3-2 home win over league-worst Buffalo. Alex Chiasson scored for the first time in 13 games and Alex Goligoski ended a 48-game drought without one as Dallas won for the fifth time in seven games.
Chiasson said that the Stars’ 19-day Olympics break helped him.
”I went through a phase where I couldn’t see the light out of the tunnel,” he said. ”It seems like the break came at the right time. I put some weight back on, and I felt rested.”
Coach Lindy Ruff notched his 600th NHL win against his former team.
”It means I’m on my way to 700, hopefully,” Ruff said. ”It means that I’ve had a lot of good players and good teams. Those wins belong to those players.”
Columbus also played Monday, winning 2-1 at Toronto. Defenseman Dalton Prout scored his first goal of the season and second of his career.
”He’s one of those guys that you root for and his teammates root for,” coach Todd Richards said.
The Blue Jackets are starting a four-game stretch against their former West foes, and felt that Monday’s contest will prepare them for the Stars.
"Like this team (the Maple Leafs), they’ve got some firepower up front with guys with a lot of speed," said center Ryan Johansen about Dallas.
Johansen has nine points in his last eight games and a team and career-high 47 for Columbus, although he was held without any Monday.
The Stars won Monday without any goals from Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, who have combined for 48. Seguin will see a familiar face on the opposite side in former Boston teammate Nathan Horton.
Ruff has given Kari Lehtonen all three starts since the break but it may not be a bad time to use backup Dan Ellis, who is 5-1-1 with a 1.56 goals-against average in seven starts versus Columbus.
Richards has similarly turned to reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in all three games since the break. Bobrovsky is 4-0-1 with a 1.95 GAA in five starts against Dallas while backup Curtis McElhinney may not be a bad option since he is 2-1-0 with a 2.32 GAA in three versus the Stars.
Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray left Monday’s contest in the first period because of a lower-body injury and didn’t return.
"I don’t sense that it’s serious but it might be something that keeps him out (Tuesday)," Richards said.
The Blue Jackets went 2-0-1 against the Stars last season.
Dallas on Tuesday traded defenseman Stephane Robidas to Anaheim for a conditional fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. Robidas hasn’t played since breaking his leg against Chicago on Nov. 29, but he has been skating in practice.
He had five points (four goals, one assist) in 24 games for the Stars this season and is seventh in club history with 704 games played.