Stars 4, Blue Jackets 2
There are no pushovers at this point in an NHL season – even
with a three-goal lead on the road.
Jamie Benn scored twice and Kari Lehtonen had 26 saves to make
an early lead stand up in the Dallas Stars’ 4-2 victory over the
Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
But it was a struggle for a team in the middle of the playoff
race against another club headed nowhere.
”It’s going to be tough. Every year is, those last 30 games of
the year,” said Alex Goligoski, who had a goal and an assist for
the Stars. ”Everybody’s fighting for position. And you’ve got
other teams fighting for other reasons, for jobs and whatnot.”
Stephane Robidas also had a goal and an assist, and Mike Ribeiro
added two assists for the Stars, who began the night 12th in the
Western Conference but just two points behind eighth-place
Up 3-0 barely 21 minutes in, it was still a battle as the Blue
Jackets scored two power-play goals in the second period and then
threatened to score several times down the stretch.
Columbus had several chances to get the tying goal in the final
period. With 6 minutes left, Jeff Carter, who had goals in his last
two games, hit the post on a hard shot from the right hash. Fedor
Tyutin was just wide with another big slap shot with just over a
minute remaining and Lehtonen smothered R.J. Umberger’s redirect
attempt with 29 seconds left.
”I thought he was real good,” Stars coach Glen Galutzan said
of Lehtonen. ”He cleaned a lot of our stuff up. Most of our stuff
The Stars hung on to win their fourth in the last six games. The
Blue Jackets failed to win their third in a row – something they
haven’t accomplished all season.
Dallas wasted little time in taking control, scoring twice in
the opening 4 1/2 minutes.
After a giveaway by Columbus’ Samuel Pahlsson handed him the
puck in the high slot, Benn wheeled and flicked a rising forehand
shot into the top right corner for his 16th of the season.
Then the Blue Jackets lost a player and allowed a goal on the
The Stars were swarming when Tomas Vincour’s hard slap shot hit
Columbus defenseman Marc Methot on the side of his face. The puck
dropped almost straight down – where Goligoski was waiting to jam
in the rebound.
Bleeding profusely, Methot skated away unaided, pressing a towel
to his face to stem the flow. He did not return.
After the game, a team spokesman said Methot sustained a broken
The bad news didn’t end there. Forward Jared Boll also broke his
foot and will be sidelined for an extensive period.
”It was a great start, getting those two goals was huge,” Benn
said. ”Getting some momentum for our team on the road is big. We
definitely want that in the first period.”
Still on the power play to start the second period, the Stars
pushed the lead to three when Robidas’ high-velocity shot from the
right point got past goalie Curtis Sanford, who couldn’t see the
puck due to congestion in front of the net.
Vinny Prospal and Rick Nash scored, and Tyutin and Derick
Brassard had two assists apiece for Columbus. The Blue Jackets,
24th in the NHL with a man advantage, scored twice in the second
period – both on power plays.
”I liked the way we battled back,” Blue Jackets interim coach
Todd Richards said. ”I liked the way we fought all the way to the
end. The problem was, we weren’t ready at the start. We dug
ourselves a 2-0 hole and we just couldn’t overcome that
Benn closed the scoring on an empty-net goal with less than a
”There’s going to be no easy games. We know that,” Goligoski
said. ”I think our work ethic was a lot better tonight. That was
good to see.”
NOTES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was at the game, coming in
hours after the official announcement of the 2013 Winter Classic
between Detroit and Toronto at the University of Michigan’s ”Big
House” … Just 18 days before the trade deadline, scouts from
Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Chicago, Vancouver, Montreal, New Jersey,
Detroit, Ottawa, Nashville and San Jose were at the game. … The
Stars improved to 16-0-0 when leading after two periods, tied for
first in the league. The last time they lost a game in regulation
when leading going into the third was Oct. 31, 2009. Since then
they are 57-0-5. … Sanford finished with 31 saves.