The Jackets were in a tough spot prior to this game, playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back against a tough Western Conference opponent. I was skeptical when I read that Sergei Bobrovsky was starting again, given the need to keep him fresh and injury-free this season.
I was as pleased as the rest of you when the Jackets came out flying in the first period, frustrating the Stars at every juncture. The “fourth” line of Boone Jenner, Lukas Sedlak and Sam Gagner was noticeable early, with Boone looking like the rugged forward we’re used to seeing.
I was waiting for the pace to lessen in the first period, but it never did. The Jackets were winning battles, they pressured the Stars defenders, and generally frustrated the hell out of the home team.
The Stars earned the first powerplay of the game with 7:39 left in the opening period, when Alex Wennberg was sent off for holding. The penalty killers did a terrific job of disrupting the Stars’ attackers, notably sending a forward behind the puck carrier to deny the ever-popular drop pass.
The score was even at goose eggs after one, with neither goalie really tested to that point. Notable for the Jackets in the second period was Nick Foligno. He was showcasing his stickhandling skill, and winning board battles. He was overwhelmed with how things started so disastrously last season, but this season he’s got his swagger back and he’s looked terrific.
With 13:47 left in the second, Stephen Johns laid a clean, hard hit on Brandon Dubinsky. Dubi, as he’s wont to do, lost his temper and retaliated with a slash on Johns. The whack earned him a trip to the penalty box, but the Jackets were able to kill it off, with a William Karlsson shorthanded breakaway chance the best for either team.
The Jackets went to the powerplay for the first time a few minutes later, but it would only last three seconds before Foligno was called for a trip. Four-on-four ensued, but neither team could find the back of the net.
The Jackets were able to benefit from some Dallas bad luck at the 16:04 mark of the middle period. The Stars were entering the Jackets’ zone, when the puck got caught up in the official’s skates. This allowed Lukas Sedlak and Boone Jenner to turn up-ice. Sedlak fed the puck to Jenner, who fed it back to Seth Jones. Jones went back to Jenner, who then went cross-crease to Josh Anderson, who wired the puck into the open net for his second of the season.
1-0 Jackets: Josh Anderson - Boone Jenner, Seth Jones
Moments later, Jamie Benn’s frustration with his team’s play led him to drop the gloves with Dubinsky. It wasn’t much of a fight, and it didn’t ignite the Stars whatsoever.
At the end of the second period, the shots were 25-15 in favor of the Stars.
I fully expected the Jackets to hit the wall in the third period, given the back-to-back. It never happened. The road team continued to press, and disrupt, and frustrate. They played a near-perfect road game. They even put more shots on Kari Lehtonen (11) in the third than they had in either of the first two periods.
At the 5:46 mark of the third, Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Saad almost came together on a goal, with the puck flipping over Lehtonen and landing in the blue paint. Lehtonen kicked the puck back toward the goal line, but Antoine Roussel was there to sweep it into his goalie’s pads.
Midway through the period, Anderson and Hartnell worked the boards to kick the puck loose behind the Dallas net to William Karlsson. Karlsson then wired a pass out front to a re-positioned Hartnell, who wired a wrister past Lehtonen.
2-0 Jackets: Scott Hartnell - William Karlsson, Zach Werenski
At the 10:39 mark David Savard was sent to the box for tripping. The most notable part of this Dallas powerplay was a Cam Atkinson short handed breakaway, which drew a penalty shot. Unfortunately for Cam, he lost the handle on his penalty shot attempt. On the same kill, Saad had an unsuccessful shorthanded breakaway of his own. With three seconds left in the kill, Dalton Prout got his stuck up on Tyler Seguin, extending the time down a man. The Jackets had another strong kill to stymie Dallas.
The Jackets earned their first real powerplay with 4:05 left in regulation. They were more than happy to play keep away instead of forcing the puck on net.
Lehtonen was pulled with 1:54 left, and the Jackets were able to put the game away. Dubinsky flipped a shot toward the net, with Jamie Benn attempting to block it. The puck went to Matt Calvert, who deposited it into the open net.
3-0 Jackets: Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky
FINAL SCORE: 3-0 Jackets