COLUMBUS -- A three-goal lead almost wasn't enough for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first 15 minutes Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, but didn't put away their 4-2 victory at Nationwide Arena until Artem Anisimov scored his second goal of the game late in the third period.
The win moved Columbus (32-25-5) into the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals.
"It's a different mentality up 3-0 and being down 3-0," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We have to learn that. We stepped off the gas. They started getting some life. You could feel it turn. When we get 3-0 leads it seems to be a problem."
When Anisimov made it 3-0 at the 15-minute mark of the first period, the shots favored Columbus 9-3. But the Blue Jackets didn't register another shot until late in the second period.
"They had it a little tilted in the first but we took over the last 40," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said.
Fortunately for Columbus, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was on his game, making 13 of his 31 saves in the last 16 minutes after the Stars (29-23-10) pulled within 3-2 on a goal by Trevor Daley.
"I hope we're not going in thinking we have to rely on Bob," Richards said. "Bob's our last line in the defense and it's a great last line to have, but again, as a young team and going forward and playing with leads, a 3-0 lead, that's where you continue going after teams."
The Blue Jackets were limited to 11 shots in the final 45 minutes against backup goalie Dan Ellis, who finished with 16 saves in his first game since Feb. 1.
"We were knocking on the door a couple of times," Ruff said. "We probably needed a big save here or there but unfortunately it wasn't Dan's night."
Anisimov made sure the Stars would not come all the way back when he scored with 4:07 left in regulation by powering around the goal and whipping in a backhander. It was his fifth goal during a four-game goal streak since returning from his homeland after playing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia. He has 18 goals, matching the career-best he set while playing with the New York Rangers in 2010-11.
Anisimov also set a team record with his third straight game-winner.
"Right now might be as good as we've seen him play in a Columbus uniform," Richards said. "Those were two huge goals for us, especially the way the game was going."
Boone Jenner and RJ Umberger also had first-period goals for Columbus while Alex Goligoski scored at 1:39 of third to make it 3-1 while Columbus forward Matt Calvert was serving a tripping penalty. Goligoski scored his fourth of the season by slamming in a rebound of Ray Whitney's shot.
Daley scored less than two minutes later to pull the Stars within one. He redirected a low drive from the left point by Sergei Gonchar past Bobrovsky for his fifth goal.
Both team played Monday before traveling to Columbus but the Blue Jackets were the ones with more energy at the beginning.
"We got out to a quick start and maybe caught them off guard," Umberger said. "We made plays when we had to the rest of the way.
"It's a good thing we came out and played well in the first period. We weren't too good the rest of the way. The first period is definitely why we won tonight and Bob held the fort."
A couple of fortuitous plays helped the Blue Jackets to a 3-0 lead, a surge was capped by a clearing pass by Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn that went off teammate Cody Eakin to the stick of Anisimov sitting at the edge of the crease for an easy power-play goal at 15:00.
Jenner opened the scoring 74 seconds into the game when his slap shot from the left circle eluded the glove of Ellis. The rookie's 11th goal was set up by a lead pass by Ryan Johansen.
"It was tough to track the puck and get a feel for the flow of the game," Ellis said. "It's tough to replicate that in practice. He just beat me."
Ellis was left to fend for himself when Umberger was alone in front for his 17th goal at 11:29. But after Anisimov's goal, Columbus went the next 22:55 without a shot.
Columbus finally got a shot when Nathan Horton fired from the top of the right circle with 2:05 remaining in the second. It was the lone shot in the period for Columbus while Dallas had 12 but the Blue Jackets maintained the margin it established in the first period.
"We stopped doing the things that brought us success in the first," Richards said. "Some of it was based on what Dallas was doing. We were retreating and they were attacking."
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