In the first game of a back-to-back against the Dallas Stars, the Jackets were looking to break a pair of streaks- a losing streak and a powerplay goal schnide. One of the two is over, but not the one we'd all prefer.
This game featured sloppy play by the Columbus defense, and lots of time in the penalty box. Let's see how things shook out.First Period
The game started slowly, with both squads looking somewhat disjointed. The teams alternated soft chances, with no pucks threatening either goaltender. One thing did stand out however- the amount of empty seats visible on the broadcast. The Stars, like the Jackets, are dealing with attendance issues.
At the 13:51 mark the Jackets went to the powerplay. David Savard and Fedor Tyutin were on the points, and entered the zone with more speed than in any previous game. With the puck in deep, Rick Nash fed Savard, who immediatly slid the puck over to Tyutin. Tyuts wired the puck on net, and it went off the skate of Vinny Prospal and into the net. The O-fer on the powerplay was over! Savard's assist was his first NHL point.
1-0 Jackets: Prospal (Tyutin, Savard)
The teams traded weak chances for the next few minutes, with more ugly hockey. The Stars started to gain momentum, and with about 8 and a half left in the first, Savard misplayed the puck behind the net, and Mike Ribeiro slid the puck cross-crease, where Stars captain Brenden Morrow was waiting. He stuffed the puck in to tie the game at one.
1-1 Morrow (Ribeiro, Ryder)
The Stars have the same goal song as the Jackets. Lame.
Shortly afterward, Prospal was called for a penalty, one that may be classified as a "crowd-call". Pretty cheesy call from my perch. One thing I couldn't help but notice was the Jackets were not aggressive on the PK. They set their square and didn't take any chances with the attackers. It was effective, as the Stars failed to score, but I would have expected more fight out of the PKers, preventing the Stars from getting set up in the offensive zone.
With 3:35 left in the period, Sheldon Souray was called for interference when he locked up Derek Dorsett behind the Dallas net. After a handful of glorious chances by the top line, the Stars finally dumped the puck out. Vinny Prospal has found a home in front of the net, he's excelling in the Holmstrom role. The Jackets failed to convert however.
End of the first, 1-1.
Little more than a minute into the period, R.J. Umberger fed the puck to a streaking Alex Giroux, who went in on a breakaway and sniped the puck for his first of the season. Many (including yours truly) didn't like to see Cam Atkinson sent to Springfield, but seeing Giroux pot one was fantastic. Columbus has had a lot of success in recent seasons with career AHLers contributing at the NHL level (see: Wilson, Kyle and MacKenzie, Derek).
2-1 Jackets: Giroux (Umberger)
A few moments later the Jackets went to the powerplay. The big unit didn't create much, but the second line had a few chances. The Jackets couldn't convert.
At the 15:32 mark of the second, I noticed Derick Brassard for the first time in the game.
With 13:41 left, Souray went back to the box. One thing that was evident was the increased movement of the puck by all five skaters. This led to more chances, and the Jackets were able to set up in the offensive zone. Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen had to make a handful of big saves to keep the score at 2-1.
At the 9:21 mark, Marc Methot left his man Loui Eriksson, and naturally the puck ended up on his stick, and he put the puck past Mason to even the score. The defensive zone coverage was spotty at best to that point.
2-2 Eriksson (Unassisted)
The tying goal gave the Stars life, and they maintained pressure in the Jackets end for the next few minutes. Steve Mason kept the door closed, and some big saves helped shift the momentum to Columbus' favor.
The Big Line was making things happen, but I couldn't help but notice that Carter still doesn't look 100% out there, likely due to the lingering effects of the flu.
To this point in the game, the passing by the Jackets blueliners was atrocious. Easy breakouts were stifled by poor passes out of the zone, and simple passes between defense partners were missing more often than not. If the forwards can't get the puck from their defensive teammates, they are not going to score.
With about a minute and a half left in the period, Carter turned the puck over in his zone, and Dallas went on the attack. If it wasn't for a pair of great defensive plays by Kris Russell, the Stars would have gone to the intermission with the lead.
End of the second: 2-2.
The Jackets started the period with the Pahlsson line, as they have at the open of each previous faceoff. I can't help but think that Mayorov is out of place. I want to see him moonlight on a scoring line, just to see what kind of offense he can produce.
Alex Goligoski is slick, man.
A minute and a half-ish into the third, Souray unleashed his best weapon. He was fed for the one-timer and didn't disappoint. He blasted the puck into the net, to give the Stars the lead.
3-2 Stars: Souray (Ribeiro)
The Stars continued to apply pressure after the goal, hemming the Jackets in their own zone. The Stars were simply outworking the Jackets.
With 13:57 left in the game, the Jackets went on the man advantage. They couldn't convert, but at the 8:00 mark Nash and Nicklas Grossman got into a heated debate, with both players going off for two minutes. Prospal was also assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty. The Jackets PK was far more aggressive this time around, and killed off the penalty.
The Jackets didn't do themselves any favors, as Giroux went off for tripping with 7:43 left. Derek Dorsett showed some real hussle early, but the Stars were able to convert. Once again, the puck was sent cross-crease to an open forward for the goal. Mason had absolutely no help on these goals, the defensive coverage was abysmal.
4-2 Stars: Ryder (Morrow, Ribeiro)
The Jackets couldn't get anything going offensively for a bulk of the remaining time. The Stars finished the game on the powerplay, with Carter and Nash killing most of the penalty. They actually created a few chances shorthanded, with one shot by Carter stinging Lehtonen. Dallas didn't score, but they held on for the win.
Final Score: 4-2 Stars.
- Alex Giroux: It was good to see the new guy do what he was called up to do: score. His penalty hurt though.
- The powerplay. They finally scored a goal, but one more PP goal could have led to a much different outcome.
- The Big Line: They had another great game.
- Mike Ribeiro: Big night offensively.
Bottom of the Barrel:
- The Columbus defense: bad coverage, bad passing, bad game. All 6 guys.
- Team Discipline: Too much time in the box for Columbus.
- Umberger, Vermette, Brassard: Yes, Umby had a helper, but these three players NEED to contribute to the scoresheet.
The Jackets fall to 0-4-1 , continuing their franchise-worst start to the season.
These two teams will meet for the second game of the home-and-home on Tuesday in Columbus. The Jackets will need a much better effort from the defense. The transition game is a mess, and Mase was hung out to dry at times tonight.
See you on Tuesday.