After a road trip the Columbus Blue Jackets would like to forget, the Dallas Stars came to town to kick off Columbus’ back-to-back. The story of the night would be inexperience versus experience. The Stars defenseman Ryan Suter has played more games than the entire blue line the Jackets iced in this game. The youth showed too. The effort was there, but without the solid play of Tarasov it wouldn’t have been close.
Less than two minutes into the game, Chinakhov went to the room with what looked like a knee injury. We can hope for the best, but it certainly looked bad in the moment. The Jackets have lost Jenner, Sillinger, and now Chinakhov in the last 24 hours.
The first period was fast paced and both teams had opportunities, although Tarasov was tested with more quality shots than Oettinger.
Johnson made several good plays while centering Gaudreau and Laine. It took a few minutes for the first line to get settled in, but once they did they looked dangerous.
Of note, Johnson and Marchenko were the standout players for Columbus in the first 20. With Chinakhov out, Marchenko moved up to the second line and was making the most out of it.
Both teams combined for 26 shots in the first period and the Stars led the xGF battle 1.06-0.60.
Tarasov was playing very well, but the Stars could only be given so many prime chances before they scored. A point shot rebound found the stick of Johnston, who backhanded it past the Columbus goalie.
DAL Goal 1-0: Johnston (Suter, Benn) 0:55
The Stars continued to push hard after their goal and the Jackets had little answer — the period shot total at the first TV break was 7-2.
Lots of Stars and not a lot of Jackets to fill the middle of the period.
Tarasov stood on his head several times to keep it at 1-0. Through two periods, the Stars had an xGF of 2.68.
Johnson drew a slashing penalty with only a few seconds left in the period, giving his team a chance to tie it up after the break.
After a very good first period, Marchenko was demoted from the second line in favor of Meyer and only played three shifts in the second period. Nice to see Larsen continuing to galaxy brain the lineup decisions.
Bjork rang a shot off the post, but other than that there was not much going on the power play.
The Stars seemed content to play it safe. They were successful in not giving up any breakaways or odd man rushes. Tarasov continued to swat away the few shots he saw in the middle part of the period.
Nyquist rang a shot off the post with two minutes left in the game. He and the crowd were ready to celebrate.
The Stars got an empty net goal to make it 2-0.
DAL EN Goal 2-0: Robertson (unassisted) 18:53
On the six on five, Roslovic got a shot on net and the rebound found the stick of Johnson who back handed it off Oettinger and into the net. It was too little too late, but it was great to see Johnson get rewarded after having a good first game at center.
CBJ Goal 2-1: Johnson (Roslovic, Nyquist) 19:45
KJ gets goal number 7 of the season pic.twitter.com/RI5dMEXoN6— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 20, 2022
Tarasov was the reason this wasn’t a three or four goal victory by the Stars. He saved 32 of 33 shots despite the Stars having an xGF of 3.37.
Marchenko had a great first period both defensively and offensively after replacing Chinakhov on the second line — he lead all forwards in both FF% and xGF% after the first 20. Larsen then stapled him to the bench the rest of the game. He only played five shifts the rest of the way. That is just inexcusable coaching. What kind of message does that send to the players? Play well, but ride the bench anyway.
The Jackets have only 2 even strength goals in their last 12 periods. That is bad.
Johnson played very well in his first game at center. He struggled at the face off dot, but he distributed the puck well, scored a goal, and the team generally seemed to possess the puck more than not while he was on the ice.
The Blue Jackets are heading to Philadelphia to finish off the back-to-back against the Flyers. The puck drops at 7:00PM ET.