COLUMBUS - The Dallas Stars made sure history didn't repeat itself.
Twelve days after the Blue Jackets stole a shootout win over the Stars in Columbus with the help of a game-tying goal with less than a minute to go, there were no such dramatics Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, where Dallas defeated the Blue Jackets, 2-1.
Brad Richards supplied all the offense by scoring both goals, and goalie Kari Lehtonen once again had a terrific performance to help the Stars (19-10-3) win for the third time in their last five games.
Lehtonen played in his second straight game after sitting out the previous four with some tightness in his lower back, and sparkled to improve to 14-7-3 on the season. He single-handedly kept the Stars in it over the game's first 40 minutes, turning aside all but one of Columbus' 27 shots through the first two periods.
"He's been great," said winger Loui Eriksson, who notched an assist on Richards' second goal that proved to be the winner in the third period. "He's a big goalie, and he made some really good saves for us again tonight. That's what we need him to do."
The Blue Jackets took the game's first eight shots before Dallas was able to get one on Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon.
"The way Kari played in the first was an equalizer. He was great. We'll take him with half-a-back on some nights," Richards joked. "When you start a game like that, there's no business being in it. I don't think we played that bad in the second half of the game. The first period was a write-off, but after that we started getting our chances, and getting pucks to the net. We then had a pretty solid third."
With the win Dallas remains in first place in the Pacific Division with 41 points, two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks, who defeated the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
"Everything was feeling good, and it was nice at the start to get three or four shots and I was able to handle those," Lehtonen said. "I tried to keep it going from there."
Richards, meanwhile, was just as impressive as Lehtonen. He tied Stephane Robidas with a team-high four shots on goal, led all forwards with 23:47 of ice-time, and was a plus-1 in a game where the Stars had mustered just 13 shots over the first two stanzas.
The Stars finally shrugged off their sluggish start in the third, and Richards was the catalyst. He scored his team-leading 14th of the season 6:17 into the final frame to snap a 1-1 tie and send Dallas to its ninth win in the last 13 games (9-2-2).
With the teams at four skaters aside, Richards chipped the puck past Columbus captain Rick Nash in the Dallas zone and went on a 2-on-1 break with Loui Eriksson. After accepting a feed from the winger at the top of the left circle, Richards snapped a shot past Garon for his second two-goal game of the season.
"We've been playing hard, and we know the points are really important right now," Eriksson said "We're playing with a little bit of confidence, too. That's how the games are right now…they're hard and physical. You have to work really hard to get the point, and we got the two points tonight."
"I thought, as a team, we played better in the second, and I though our best period was the third," coach Marc Crawford said. "We had many guys that rose to the occasion. Brad Richards' two huge goals, and Brendan Morrow again showed great leadership all night. Our penalty kill was excellent, and the defense was terrific."
Fedor Tyutin scored, and Garon finished with 21 saves for the Blue Jackets (16-13-3), who fell to 1-3-2 over their last six games.
With the score tied at a goal apiece after 20 minutes of action, the Blue Jackets thought they grabbed the lead with five minutes to go in the second when Derek Dorsett shoveled home a loose puck into a gaping net. But the goal was immediately waved off after it was ruled that Ethan Moreau interfered with Lehtonen, which in turn caused the net to be wide open for Dorsett to easily deposit the puck in.
After a brief video review, the call on the ice stood.
"I don't know what they saw, but they waved it off," Dorsett said.
Richards opened the scoring with 6:47 left in the first period. Just as the Stars' two-man advantage was expiring, he let a wrist shot go from the high slot that went past Garon.
The Blue Jackets tied it at 1-1 when Tyutin registered his first of the year with just 49 seconds left in the opening frame. Lehtonen made a nifty right toe save on Moreau's shot from the slot, but the puck popped into the air before being whacked in by Tyutin with a backhand.
"Should we have had some better fate? Yeah," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "It was a heck of a hockey game, but we have to find a way (to win). We did lots of good things. We had them hemmed in and had lots of opportunities to get the lead."
The Stars immediately departed for Detroit, where they will take on the Red Wings on Sunday (4 p.m. FS-SW). The Red Wings have lost two of their last three, including a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.
-- Forward Krystofer Barch returned after missing the past seven games because of a foot injury. He got into a first-period scrap with Columbus left wing Tom Sestito, then took on Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll in the middle frame.
-- The high-spirited contest featured 88 combined penalty minutes, including 10-minute misconducts handed out to Steve Ott, Sestito, and Boll.
-- The Stars went 1-for-6 on the power play, the third straight road game in which they've scored with the man advantage, and fourth game overall. They are 5-for-18 over their last four games on the power play.
-- Dallas has killed-off 42 of the opposition's last 47 power-play opportunities, including erasing all five of Columbus' power plays.
-- The Stars improved their league-leading record in one-goal games to 13-2-3.
-- Richards has nine points, 24 shots and has a plus-7 rating in the first game of back-to-back games this season (six games).