The Columbus Blue Jackets (40-32-7) came into Dallas early Thursday morning with one goal in mind; win and we’re in. All the Blue Jackets needed was 2 points in any fashion and they would be heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in franchise history. They did just that with a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars (39-30-11).
Their path was made easier as they started the game with a 1-0 lead. The reason for the abnormal start was because of the postponement of the game on March 10th. If you recall, this is when Stars forward Rich Peverley had his cardiac incident. At the time of the emergency the Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nathan Horton.
The Blue Jackets picked up right where they left off a month ago and widened the lead to two goals on a goal by Artem Anisimov just 1:33 into the first period. Anisimov picked the puck up off a crazy bounce along the boards and used his length to wrap the puck around Stars netminder Tim Thomas.
Shawn Horcoff would be whistled at 9:43 of the period and assessed a double minor high-sticking penalty. The Blue Jackets would make the game 3-0 on the ensuing powerplay with a goal by Mark Letestu.
Neither team was able to score in the second frame which can be seen as a positive sign for the Stars. Over the past 4 games the Stars had allowed 8 goals before the clean sheet tonight.
The third period began with the Stars on the powerplay after Columbus defenceman James Wisniewski was given two minutes for interference at the 20:00 minute mark of the 2nd period. Dallas failed to capitalize on the opportunity early in the period.
With just under 14 minutes to go in the game, down three goals, Stars coach Lindy Ruff decided to pull Thomas. This gave the Stars a 6 on 4 advantage as Columbus forward Cam Atkinson was given a two minute penalty for hooking. The gamble paid off as Stars defenceman Trevor Daley was able to put home his 8th goal of the season. The goal by Daley was on the powerplay at 13:27. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were each credited with an assist on the play. The Stars continued to press after the Daley goal but were unable to get another past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Dallas finished the game with a 34-26 advantage in shots on goal but ultimately fell 3-1 in the game.
Notes and Observations
-Ray Whitney continues to be listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury and did not play tonight.
-Tim Thomas got his first start in 11 games and finished with 24 saves
-Dallas remains two points ahead of Phoenix for the last playoff spot in the West. The Coyotes now hold a game in hand and will play Nashville at home tomorrow.
-Dallas returns to play on Friday against the St.Louis Blues. Game time is 7:30pm CST.
-Friday night’s game will be a very interesting one for many reasons. Besides the Stars needing the points to stay ahead of the Coyotes, this could also be a first round playoff matchup.