COLUMBUS - The Stars have been playing with a small margin for error during their impressive six-game winning run that has lasted nearly two weeks. It caught up to them in Columbus in heart-breaking fashion.
Rick Nash sent the game into overtime with a power-play goal with just 46.1 seconds left in regulation, and Kyle Wilson scored the shootout winner in the third round of the breakaway event to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 win over Dallas on Monday night at Nationwide Arena.
The Stars came tantalizingly close to matching their franchise-record seven-game winning streak -- done four previous times -- but wound up having their six-game win streak snapped by a Columbus team that came in winless in its last five games.
"We played a strong game, but it's tough," winger Jame Neal said. "We did a lot of good things, but they just got a big power-play goal there at the end, and won it in the shootout."
Despite being held to just 18 shots, the Stars were in position to steal a victory after Steve Ott snapped a 1-1, third-period tie with his seventh of the season just under eight minutes into the final frame. But a holding penalty by defenseman Karlis Skrastins put the Blue Jackets on the power play with less than two minutes to go and a chance to tie it up, and they did just that.
With Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon on the bench for an extra attacker to give the Blue Jackets a 6-on-4 advantage, Nash made the Stars pay when he miraculously wristed a shot from the right faceoff dot and through a maze of bodies past Kari Lehtonen to send the game into overtime.
"There were a couple guys in front of me and I tried to get big, but he got it through," Lehtonen said. "I should have known…that's where he likes to shoot. It's a tough way to lose the game, but it's still a road point. It could have gone either way in regulation."
The Blue Jackets captain then beat Lehtonen in the first round of the shootout, and Wilson gave Columbus the bonus point when his snap shot went into the lower-left corner in the final round after Brad Richards' had tied things up in the second round with a nifty deke.
Garon sealed it with a right pad save on Jamie Benn's deke on the final shootout attempt.
Richards also scored in regulation, and Lehtonen finished with 27 saves for the Stars (16-8-2), who came in having won all but one of their previous six games by a goal.
"We've had the bounces go our way of late, but one tough call and things shift," Neal said. "We just kind of have to let it roll off our backs and try to get another streak going."
With 7:52 left in the third, Ott converted a nifty give-and-go with Trevor Daley to give the Stars a 2-1 edge. After feeding Daley behind the goal line, Ott charged into the left circle before one-timing Daley's return pass at the left faceoff dot past Garon.
On the goal, Ott's third in the past four games, Adam Burish was wreaking havoc in front of Garon, while Brandon Segal started the play by dishing the puck to Ott.
"It was good that we were able to take the lead in the third, but they kept battling," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "But there are a lot of good things to take out of tonight."
Kris Russell also scored, and Garon finished with 16 saves for the Blue Jackets, who came in after losing their past two games to Buffalo and Pittsburgh by a combined score of 12-2.
"We knew they were going to come out hard," Robidas said. "They're in their building and it's not an easy building to play in. You look at the standings and they're right up there."
Down by a goal after 20 minutes, the Stars finally solved Garon when Richards popped in his team-leading 12th of the year with 4:15 left in the middle frame. Receiving a backhand pass from Neal along the right boards, Richards' hard wrist shot from the slot went off Garon's glove before trickling in to tie the game, 1-1.
The goal capped a period in which Dallas held the territorial edge, and responded with a more pronounced and tenacious forecheck after a stale first period.
The Blue Jackets struck first to grab a 1-0 lead 5:26 into the first period. From the bottom of the right circle, Russell accepted Jakub Voracek's pass before flicking a backhand into the top-left corner.
"I liked our team," coach Marc Crawford said. "I thought we were the better team in the second and in the third. It's a good point, though. It's disappointing because the guys wanted two points, but there's a lot we can take out of this. It's a point on the road and we'll take that."
The Stars continue their three-game road trip on Wednesday when they travel to Chicago to take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (7:30 FS-SW). Chicago defeated the Calgary Flames on Sunday, but lost a key component when Patrick Kane left a minute into the contest because of a lower-body injury. He'll likely miss Wednesday's game.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now and doing a lot of good things, so we need to just let this one fly by, go into Chicago and have a good start," Neal said. "We have to keep playing good on the road."