Game 56 Recap: Big W in the Big D

A couple of lineup notes for this afternoon. Andrew Murray is in the lineup, replacing the ailing Derek Dorsett. Also, Steve Mason gets the start in net today. As things turned out, Mase was a wise choice as the Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars by a score of 2-1.

The early look at the lower bowl at American Airlines Center in Dallas screamed "Plenty of good seats available"! Here at The Cannon, there are always plenty of good seats available. After the jump, the story of a "Big W in Big D":

Things didn't start so well for the Jackets, when Fedor Tyutin got whistled for a high sticking minor at 2:56 of the first period. The situation was compounded when Dallas' scoring machine, Brad Richards, notched a power play goal at 4:36. The goal saw Richards trying to get the puck to the net from the right boards, just inside the face off circle. As Mason dropped, the puck found the five hole and just that quickly, the Stars got off to the 1-0 lead.

Just 46 seconds later, Matt Calvert evened the game at one, when he banged home a rebound from a Jan Hejda point blast. The face off was drawn back to Anton Stralman who made a quick pass to Hejda and fired a drive that Kari Lehtonen kicked right onto Calvert's stick, enabling Matt to drive the one timer home.

Dallas was called for a too many men on the ice penalty at 12:11. The PP effort looked strong, as the Jackets managed to keep the play in the Stars' zone. The Jackets hammered Lehtonen with seven shots on goal during the power play.

A really fine period of Blue Jackets hockey ended on a bit of a down note when Fedor Tyutin went back to the box at 18:27 after he got called for slashing Brendan Morrow. Kari Lehtonen was by far the difference in the first period. The Jackets outshot the Stars 18-6 and that was truly indicative of the dominance by Columbus in the period.

The Blue Jackets took their first lead of the afternoon on a tremendous goal by Rick Nash. Anton Stralman for the second time today got the play off to a start as he found Jakub Voracek open along the far boards. Just as quickly, Jake found Nash and hit him square with a perfect cross ice pass. Nash went down the wing, pivoted past the Dallas defender, Stephane Robidas, and cut sharp in front of Lehtonen, cleanly beating the outstretched netminder.

A strange bit of officiating by referees Chris Lee and Justin St. Pierre midway through the second period. Kris Russell made a simple backhanded clearing attempt. Unfortunately, the puck clearly hit Antoine Vermette in the back of the head and went into the stands. The deflected puck should have negated a penalty for delay of game. Unfortunately for Russell, a Sunday afternoon in Dallas apparently abates that rule, thus off to the box he went. The team of Lee and St. Pierre evened things up 17 seconds later when they sat Brendan Morrow down for interference. Really they did. In any event, the calls didn't cost either team.

Through two periods, Anton Stralman was been the offensive player of the game. This was Stralman's first multi-point game since February 6, 2010. Could this be the power of the "healthy scratch" syndrome?

The third period saw Derick Brassard take a tripping minor while in the offensive zone at 1:52. The PK was outstanding, led by a couple of big Steve Mason saves. Toward the end of the Dallas PP, thug Steve Ott hit R.J. Umberger with what I felt was a questionable open ice hit. Brief words were exchanged as the players went to their respective benches and nothing came of it.

Tyutin took his third trip of the day to the sin bin at the 7:21 mark of the third period. Toots was borderline speared by Mike Ribeiro, yet he was called for hooking. This was one of those calls where it didn't matter how many referees were on the ice. Justin St. Pierre made the call coming from behind Tyutin's back, so he didn't see the stick that was wedged between Toots' legs, just the reciprocation.

Steve Mason made the save of the game at the 12:55 mark. A 3 on 2 developed, Mase saved the first shot from the left wing. The rebound came out to the slot and right onto the stick of Steve Ott. Even though Ott had the whole gaping net to shoot at, he kept the puck low and Mase absolutely stoned Ott as he flashed the left pad out to keep it a 2-1 game.

The Stars put together a furious push over the final couple of minutes. They pulled Lehtonen with just over a minute to go. The Jackets defense stood equal to the task at hand, and as he did all day long, Steve Mason was absolutely stellar as he kept the Stars at bay and backstopped the Jackets to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the host Stars.

Standard Bearers:
Steve Mason - Today, Mase played at his finest. The Stars' early first period goal could have deflated him, not to mention the rest of the team, but after that, he was flat out awesome.

Anton Stralman - A name I never thought I'd list under "Standard Bearers". His play for most of the season has been awful. Today was the day that all Jacket fans have been wanting this guy to have. I think with Grant Clitsome's successes in getting the puck to the net, not just Stralman, but all the D have been making an effort to unload from the point. And it has made a difference over the last few weeks.

Rick Nash - Again today, Nash showed everybody his Captain's Pride in the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nash's goal was simply a thing of beauty. For the rest of the afternoon, he did what he needed to do - staying active in his lanes, moving bodies when he had to. This was another solid performance by Nash.

Honorable Mention:
Matt Calvert - His goal was a momentum breaker for the Stars. Another well hustled game by Matt.

Kari Lehtonen - The opposition I know. I have to stand up for the goalie here though. Without him in net, this was easily a 5 or 6 goal day by the Jackets.

Bottom of the Barrel:
Officiating - Questionable calls, questionable non-calls, oddly enough we should be used to it by now. However getting used to borderline officiating doesn't make it right.

Springfield Falcons - A 1-2-0 weekend for the Junior Jackets. Blown out at home Friday night 5-0 by the Worcester Sharks, they rebounded nicely Saturday night trouncing the Providence Bruins 8-2. Then they wrapped up the weekend by surrendering three third period goals and falling to the Manchester Monarchs 5-3. Consistency guys!!!

Finally, the Jackets are now 5-0-2 in their last seven road games. This ties a team record that was set from March 7th to April 8th of 2009. The Jackets return to game action on Wednesday February 16th, when the Los Angeles Kings visit Nationwide Arena at 7PM.

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