Jackets clinch playoff berth in 3-1 victory over Stars
DALLAS (AP) — Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu added goals to the one Columbus already had when the makeup game started, and the Blue Jackets clinched the second playoff berth in franchise history with a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.
The Blue Jackets had a 1-0 lead when the puck dropped because that was the score March 10, the night the original game was postponed after Dallas forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench because of an irregular heartbeat.
Anisimov doubled the margin on an unassisted goal just 1:33 into the game. That was 71 seconds faster than the goal last month by Nathan Horton, who got credit for it even though he didn’t officially play because he missed the makeup game with a lower-body injury.
The Blue Jackets set a franchise record with 42 wins, beating the previous mark from their only other playoff season in 2008-09.
Columbus was swept by Detroit in the first round five years ago, and now those teams are in a battle for playoff position in their first season since being moved to the Eastern Conference.
The Stars never really gave themselves a chance to build a cushion on Phoenix for the final playoff berth in the West. Dallas (89 points) has a two-point lead over the Coyotes, who have three games left to two for the Stars.
Dallas trailed 3-0 after the first and couldn’t capitalize on power plays with fresh ice at the start of the second and third periods against Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 17 of 18 shots in the third period and 33 of 34 overall.
The Russian had to work harder at the start of the third, stopping Tyler Seguin on a backhand shot in the crease after Dallas’ leading scorer skated around the defense and turning away Jamie Benn from the wing a few seconds later.
The Stars scored when they pulled goalie Tim Thomas for a 6-on-4 power play with 13 minutes left in the game. Bobrovsky made a sprawling save before Trevor Daley punched in a rebound in a crowd in front of the net.
Dallas outshot Columbus 18-2 in the third period, when the Stars went with an empty net for a total of about 5 minutes.
The Stars ended up playing four times in five nights because of the makeup game, the same thing the Blue Jackets are doing to finish the season. Columbus was on the second night of a back-to-back and is the first team to play on four of the last five days of the season since Ottawa in 1993.
Because of the busy schedule, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff went with Thomas over Kari Lehtonen.
Thomas was fooled by Anisimov for the Columbus center’s third goal in two games against the Stars, and Letestu made it 3-0 when his shot went off Daley’s stick to the side of Thomas and somehow slid between the goalie’s legs.