"They planned their campaigns just as you might make a splendid piece of harness. It looks very well; and answers very well; until it gets broken; and then you are done for. Now I made my campaigns of ropes. If anything went wrong, I tied a knot; and went on."
-- Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington
Going into tonight's game, there was a certain feeling of "Oh, now what?"
Even as the Jackets dealt with the loss of Jack Johnson, Artem Anisimov, and Brandon Dubinsky, they received the news that James Wisniewski would be lost for the forseeable future after breaking bone in his foot on Sunday night.
On the Dallas Stars' end, their dressing room has been dealing with their own injury woes, then learned that F Michael Ryder would not be available for tonight's game, because he'd been traded to Montreal for Erik Cole.
For much of the first period the two clubs would feel each other out, but the Stars would be much more aggressive, putting traffic on the net and forcing Segei Bobrovsky to work early and often to make saves. Down at the other end of the ice, Richard Bachman barely had to move, only being asked to make a handful of stops.
Dallas would finally crack the ice with five minutes left in the first period. Brendan Morrow went to the net and redirected a Cody Eakin shot off his skate and into the net. The play would be reviewed, but the call on the ice stood after the war room determined there had been no kicking motion.
With Dallas leading the shot clock 14-5, the Jackets needed to find their offense, and things were looking up when Nikita Nikitin blasted a tying goal in less than two minutes into the second period. Mark Letestu won the offensive zone draw cleanly back to Tyutin, who faked the shot before sending it over to wide open Niki6.
Dallas would go back to their bread and butter, however, swarming the net and winning the puck battles around the crease. Keeping an extended series up against the thinned down Jackets' defense, Derek Roy would work his way to a loose puck before tapping it in past the side of the net, putting the Stars back out in front.
Fortunately, the Jackets had their own reserves of hustle. Mark Letestu would be involved on this goal as well, working with Vinny Prospal and Derek Dorsett to push the play, then hitting Bachman with a shot that would rebound right to Dorsett for the second tying goal of the night.
Unfortunately, almost as quickly as that happened, the Stars got right back out in front again. The same formula kept working for them - keep pressure, cycle the puck, and work it to the net. Antoine Roussel would redirect a long shot from Brenden Dillon, giving the Stars a 3-2 lead that they would hold into the third period.
The Jackets were improving in some areas, putting 9 shots on net, but still chasing the play and losing puck battles far too often.
To add injury to insult, Derick Brassard would leave the bench in the second period, and the team would announce during intermission that he would not return due to an upper body injury.
The Jackets came out skating harder in the third period, looking to take advantage of a team on the second night of a back to back, and Cam Atkinson would tie the game once again when he floated through the Dallas defense at just the right moment, caught a fast Adrian Aucoin rebound, and slammed it home.
Nick Foligno would pick up the secondary assist, but credit has to be given to Ryan Johansen, who kept the puck alive behind the Dallas net while his teammates got into the zone and set themselves up.
Things looked great for the Jackets to roar back, but with six minutes left in the period, Sergei Bobrovsky...well, there's really no other phrase for it: Bob shit the bed. Cody Eakin got around and fired a fairly routine dump-in shot that Bob tried to save with his glove, failed, and the puck dribbled through his legs and into the net.
It was a demoralizing moment, and one that probably had a lot of fans reaching for the remote, but the Jackets had another surprise left up their sleeves.
With less than two minutes to go, Nick Foligno would steal the puck away in the Dallas zone and send a laser beam centering pass to R.J. Umberger....and unlike more than a few games this season, Umby was ready, willing, and able to send that puck into the back of the net.
The remaining regulation time went agonizingly slowly, especially when Jaromir Jagr managed one last beauty rush, but the goaltenders kept their nets into the OT, giving each club a point.
When the extra session began, we saw some good attempts from Cam Atkinson and Vinny Prospal, while Dallas' Loui Eriksson and Derek Roy both had attempts, but things weren't settled until the final two minutes, when a Derek Roy shot from the boards generated a huge rebound from Bobrovsky. Loui Eriksson fought his way around Cody Goloubef and managed to hook the puck on the edge of his stick, tapping it into the open net even as he fell to the ice.
I give both teams credit - lots of things went wrong, but they kept finding ways to get back into the game and go on. Sadly, it would be the Stars who found the final answers, while the Jackets were left with a strong sense of what might have been.
Final Score - Stars 5 - Jackets 4
- Mark Letestu - The Test Tube played one of his better games of the season, setting up two great goals and leading the club in shots on goal.
- Cam Atkinson - Good to see him finding the back of the net, but Cam also did some good things defensively and trying to drive the play even when the club seemed to be sleepwalking through the game.
- R.J. Umberger - That's the kind of clutch goals we want to see. Get us some more.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Sergei Bobrovsky - Seriously, Bob, what the hell? Maybe two of those goals were "OK" goals. The other three, particularly Dallas' fourth goal and the game winner, were headshakers.
- Matt Calvert - I love the Mattyhustle, but he was on the ice for literally every Dallas goal in regulation.
- Tim Erixon - I respect Erixon's willingness to step up and try to take on the open minutes, but he really struggled most of tonight.
The Jackets will have a couple of days to try and recover - it sounds like Artem Anisimov may be back into the lineup soon - then take a quick trip to the Windy City to face the Blackhawks on Friday.