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Blue Jackets fall to Dallas, again

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Second Period Woes

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Dallas Stars Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to end their four game winless streak on the final meeting with the Dallas Stars this season. Notable features to the Blue Jackets line-up: Ryan Macinnus replaced Kole Sherwood, Mikko Lehtonen replaced Dean Kukan to pair with Seth Jones on the top defensive pairing. Joonas Korpisalo started in net, who was looking to bounce back from his recent play. Scott Harrington played his 200th game recently, and had 8 blocked shots last game. Michael Del Zotto was playing in his 700th NHL game (although elsewhere in the league, Patrick Marleau was playing his 1,767th NHL game for the San Jose Sharks, tying the all-time record by Gordie Howe). Oliver Bjorkstrand returned to the ice with a bruised face after taking a stick to the face last game, wearing a full shield that Jody Shelley would mentioned about 8 times this game. Dallas donned their glow-putt garb, reminiscent of the 2015 All-Star jerseys in Columbus. Dallas was fighting for a playoff spot, while Columbus trialed a wave of young players fighting for a place in the line-up.

The period began with energy for the Jackets. At 17:52, Roslovic incurred a (weak) slashing penalty, pitting our penalty kill against the 6th ranked Stars’ power play. Texier and Matteau’s 2-on-1 short-handed breakaway ended with shot into Oettinger’s chest. At 14:20, Korpi denied an even strength breakaway by Dallas’ Gardner. At 13:54, Bjorky’s shot from wide past Oettinger found Gavrikov through the back door for a GOAL, ending his 38th game goalless streak. Nice work by Atkinson up the neutral zone to facilitate that score.

At 7:25, a shot bounced off Korpi, back to Benn (whose visor-less face looks vintage), who whacked it out of the air into the net, nailing his 8th point this series against the Jackets. With less than 2 minutes in the period, Domi had his stick held, and Jackets went on the power play, with a great early shot by Laine answered by a near shorted-handed Dallas goal.

Overall, the Jackets had the same prolific first period with notable work from Lehtonen, Dunn, and Bjorkstrand. The Jackets got equal shots off, kept pucks wide per Jody Shelley, but saw too much time in the defensive zone and only 37% of face-offs wins.

The second period began innocuously, with few shots, but lots of battle work, especially by Jones. Unfortunately, things got ugly the second half. At 10:00, Dallas’ Denis Gurianov give and take with Benn got past Korpi, catching Laine in no man’s land (Gurianov also had two goals against the Jackets last Thursday). At 6:46, Joe Pavelski netted a back-handed goal, his 18th of the season. AND twenty seconds later, John Klingberg (aka toothless wonder) shot 5-hole through Korpi, who then was rightfully yanked. Laine and Domi were both -4 at this time, garnering rare criticism from Jody Shelley. Just when you thought the bleeding stopped, Esa Lindell shot through the Jackets’ defensive scramble past Merzlikins, for his 5th goal of the season. Domi topped this third period awfulness with another hot-headed play, garnering two minutes penalty for slashing, two minutes for a high stick, and a ten minute misconduct in a fight against Garner, landing us again on the penalty kill.

The third period was boring, sloppy and unorganized. Robinson had a grade A chance early on, but can’t shoot in the corners. Merzlikins had a nice save on Pavelski’s shot nearing the 5 minute mark. With less than two minutes to go, Robinson went to the box for tripping, mercilessly ending this game.

Final thoughts: Korpi is not playing well. He looks like he’s not even moving at times. Domi needs to get his anger under control and focus on playing hockey. Jones remains a stalwart. Lehtonen looked solid to the naked eye. But the biggest recurring saga is the second period collapse, cementing our 5th straight loss. Tank on.