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Blue Jackets Hang on to Win Penalty-Filled Game in Dallas

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In game #38, the Jackets welcomed back Cam Atkinson and Mark Letestu to the lineup. It was another win that was ugly at times, but the 4-2 victory over the Stars pushes Columbus above .500. Oh, and check those wild card standings.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, apologies everyone.  Someone just fell asleep during the writing of this recap.  Long day.  This may not be as detailed as it usually it is.

Columbus welcomed back RW Cam Atkinson and C Mark Letestu to the team, both key contributors for the Jackets.  To make space, Adam Cracknell and Michael Chaput were sent to Springfield, perhaps a bit surprising.  Corey Tropp was scratched as the extra forward as Sean Collins picked up 3rd line duty with Alexander Wennberg and Jack Skille.

Oh, and there was an earthquake in Dallas in the afternoon prior to the game.  A little curiously, Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Stars.

1st Period

The visits to the penalty box started very early in this one as the Stars' Atonine Roussel kicked things off just 55 seconds with a call for hooking.  The CBJ power play was disjointed and barely got organized.  In fact, Dallas had a couple of good scoring chances short-handed.

After a couple of back and forths with not many chances, James Wisniewski of all people led a breakout for the Jackets.  He got the puck to Nick Foligno who drove the play to the net.  After missing a backhanded shot, the puck ended up with Scott Hartnell in the right corner.  He waited patiently, and the Stars D collapsed to the middle.  He passed to Wisniewski to the right point and Wiz ripped a slap shot past Anders Lindback as he skated along the blue line to the middle of the ice.

1-0 CBJ Wisniewski (4) from Hartnell and Foligno at 5:21 - EV

Another Dallas penalty provided Columbus with their 2nd power play of the evening less than a minute later.  It wasn't pretty again, but late in the man advantage Scott Hartnell led a charge into the Dallas zone.  In a mini 2-on-1 Hartnell came up the left side of the ice and laced a beautiful cross-zone pass to Johansen.  Joey then lasered it past an outstretched Lindback.  Top shelf.  He now has goals in four straight games and points in eight straight (4-5-9).

2-0 CBJ Johansen (13) from Hartnell and Foligno at 7:26 - PP

Within a couple minutes, the Jackets would give the momentum right back with a pair of penalties of their own.  The penalty kill was huge again after a hiccup a couple games ago.  I believe that is eight kills in a row over the last couple games.  The Jackets got another chance on the power play after Erik Cole trucked Fedor Tyutin, but they could not generate a shot on net.  Dallas had the shot advantage 9-6 after 20 minutes, but Columbus led 2-0 where it mattered.

2nd Period

As Dan noted, the key to Lindback was just to generate shots.  He doesn't have a great save percentage.  This started to take place in the middle period as the Jackets tied the shot count at 16 by period's end.

Less than four minutes into the frame, the Blue Jackets built on their lead.  Johansen settled the puck down high on the left half wall and fed the puck to Kevin Connauton along the blue line.  The former Dallas Star ripped a one-timer past Lindback to give the CBJ a three-goal lead.  The replay of his goal would serve as his video tribute, apparently.

3-0 CBJ Connaution (6) from Johansen and Foligno at 3:57 - EV

Less than two minutes later, Dallas got it back.  The Stars had sustained pressure in the Columbus zone, and Ales Hemsky circled around from Bob's right, across the middle of the zone, and fired a shot from the opposite faceoff circle.  The puck made it through a sea of bodies past Bobrovsky and stopped the bleeding for Dallas.

3-1 CBJ Hemsky (5) from Oleksiak at 5:28 - EV

The Jackets then killed off back-to-back penalties again before Dallas would strike again.  It felt like it was coming as the CBJ simply couldn't clear and things felt like they were out of control.  Cam Atkinson attempted to clear amidst the chaos on the defensive zone, but Ryan Garbutt knocked it down and fired a shot in the slot.  The puck deflected in off Antoine Roussel and just like that it was a one-goal game.

3-2 CBJ Roussel (10) from Garbutt at 13:14 - EV

Just before the final TV timeout of the period, Jeremy Morin found himself in the crease as Lindback froze the puck.  Dallas took exception and cross-checked him in the face while also bending him back over the goal.  Curiously, on a night when the whistles were used liberally no penalty was assessed.  Off the ensuing faceoff Jared Boll dropped the gloves with Travis Moen.  Columbus also had another power play opportunity late in the period but could not convert.

3rd Period

The final 20 minutes were mostly, um, ugly, for the boys in the road whites.  Dallas generated 11 shots and Bob was up to the task for all of them.  Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets only hit the net four times.

The teams traded a couple of power plays but Columbus was finally able to put away the game late.  Mark Letestu skated the puck into the Dallas zone in a 2-on-1 situation with Wennberg.  He fed the rookie on his left who then gave it right back to Letestu on the doorstep.  Easy goal for the right-handed centerman in his return as Lindback had no chance.

4-2 CBJ Letestu (4) from Wennberg and Collins at 17:02 - EV

The Jackets finished off the game as the Stars pulled Lindback.

FINAL CBJ 4, DAL 2

After the de-pantsing in Phoenix, the Jackets have responded with two ugly-ish (at times) wins on the road trip and finish it off in Toronto on Friday.

Also...we're above.500!! This marks the first time since the Jackets were 4-3-0 that the team is above the .500 mark.

Standard Bearers

-Bobrovsky.  Once again, the team relied on him to come up big and he bailed them out in the 3rd period.

-Connauton.  The offense just keeps coming for this guy.  Thanks, Dallas.

-Welcome back, Mark Letestu.  Not a ton of ice time as they ease him back, but what a difference he makes.  PK, 4th line duty...he's a key contributor.

-Johansen - definitely has shaken off the slump he was in.  Played 22 minutes in all situations again.  Goal, assist, and only center above 50% in the dot (15 of 27).

-Hartnell & Foligno - hey, let's keep that top line together, ok? Assists all around from these two.

Bottom of the Barrel

-The refs.  Inconsistent calls and a pretty awful no-call on the Morin roughing in the crease.

-Penalties - inconsistent refs or not, you simply cannot give up that many power play chances to a team like Dallas.

-Specifically - Tyutin I guess?  He had a couple of hooking calls, but hey he also was playing in his 700th career NHL game.

This was typical of the last 15 or so games for the Jackets.  Pretty ugly offensively, got outshot, rode Bob late, and picked up a PP goal in addition to contributions from the blue line.  It's turning into the Jackets formula.  Two points is two points, but Lindback is just so...bad when compared to Lehtonen for the Stars.  Dallas was 9-2-1 in their last 10 coming into the contest and had put up monster numbers offensively recently.  Speaking of Toronto on Friday, the Jackets trail the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot by six points with two games in hand.  This is a HUUUUUUGE four pointer coming up.  Oh and the Leafs just fired their coach.

The Blue Jackets are now 12-2-1 since the start of December.