Blue Jackets 2, Stars 0
Trying to break a long road slump, the Stars had their back broken by Mathieu Garon.
Garon earned his 16th shutout of his career, and second of the season, by frustrating the Stars shooters all night long, and helped lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a rare 2-0 victory over slumping Dallas at Nationwide Arena on Sunday night.
The loss was the Stars' seventh straight on the road dropping them to 1-7-3 in their last 11 games away from American Airlines Center, and was just the first defeat in Columbus in regulation in the last 12 meetings with the Blue Jackets in the capital of Ohio.
The Stars threw everything at Garon in the final stages of the third period, but the 32-year-old stood tall in the crease. With the Blue Jackets clinging to a 1-0 lead, Mike Modano had a glorious chance to tie the game with 2:26 left in regulation when he went in alone on Garon from the Columbus blue line.
Modano streaked in, put a nifty move on Garon, and deftly tried slipping the puck between the goalie's pads. But Garon somehow got his leg on it, and then was just as fortunate when Steve Ott
's rebound attempt sailed over the net.
Before that, Dallas almost tied it with 6:22 to go in regulation when Stephane Robidas
' wrister from the right point rang off the post after being deflected by Tom Wandell
Dallas goalie Marty Turco was just as steady as Garon, finishing with 39 saves.
In the third, Andrew Murray nearly gave the Blue Jackets a two-goal lead with 15 minutes left. He let a quick shot go from the slot that hit the left post, and the puck skirted along the goal line before Turco was able to swat it away.
Raffi Torres scored a first-period goal, and Antoine Vermette iced it with an empty-netter while the Stars were shorthanded with 4 seconds left on the clock.
The stage was certainly set for the Stars to break out of its road doldrums. Playing in an arena where they had won 12 of 16 all-time games in, Dallas seemed poised to break out, especially after an emotional win against the New York Islanders at home on Friday night.
Plus, Turco had never lost in eight previous decisions in Columbus, and the Blue Jackets were still reeling despite winning their last two games. Columbus came in having lost 21 of its previous 24.
But Dallas came out of the gate surprisingly slow, surrendering 16 first-period shots to the Blue Jackets while playing too loose defensively.
Down by a goal after the first 20 minutes, the Stars began showing some life after being outshot by 10 in that opening stanza.
The Blue Jackets didn't register their first shot until midway through the second, and were on their heels during most of the first part of the period. But Garon proved to be the difference with his steady play, especially during a 20-second flurry involving the trio of Modano, Jere Lehtinen and Ott.
Garon made two saves during that stretch, and was also aided when Modano's attempt while staring at a gaping net from in tight was kept out by a Blue Jackets' stick.
was also buzzing around in the period after coach Marc Crawford reunited him with center Brad Richards
and Loui Eriksson
. Neal and Richards combined for eight shots during the first 40 minutes.
"It's a boost anytime you're playing with Brad and Loui," Neal said about getting back together with his linemates. "They're so good."
Turco was also splendid later in the second when he denied Vermette's point-blank shot from the slot.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring when Torres notched his 13th of the season 8:20 into the game. Off the rush after Brenden Morrow
lost the puck at the Columbus blue line, Torres was able to one-time a bouncing puck at the right circle off a feed from Derick Brassard.
Eriksson nearly tied it when he went in alone on Garon while the Stars were shorthanded late in the first, but he was unable to sneak the puck in on a deke attempt.
The Stars will stay on the East Coast and travel to Philadelphia for a meeting with the Flyers on Tuesday night (6 p.m., FSN). The Flyers won their third straight on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Dallas will conclude its three-game trip on Thursday in Montreal.
-- Defenseman Matt Niskanen
was scratched in favor of recent call-up Maxime Fortunus
-- Forward Warren Peters played in his third game this season after being recalled on Thursday.
-- Defenseman Nicklas Grossman
missed his second straight game because of a lower-body injury.
-- Modano played in his 1,432nd career NHL game, putting him into the Top 20 all-time.
-- Turco is now 1-6-2 in his last nine away from home.
-- The Stars were 0-for-5 on the power play, and haven't scored with the man advantage in five straight.
-- The 41 shots allowed were the most since giving up a season-high 42 in a 4-3 overtime loss at Anaheim on Dec. 8.
|Three star selections