Game Review – 12/18/08 (DAL vs CBJ)

by Chelsea

Game:

I promise, eventually, these will be published in a more timely manner. Perhaps in the post-holiday calm?

This game saw the return of three sorely missed Stars: forwards Joel Lundqvist, Steve Ott, and defenseman Stephane Robidas. Ott had a brace on under his glove to protect his broken hand and couldn’t fight, while Robidas had that all-too-familiar face cage back. 

Loui Eriksson was coming off a 2-1 OT win in which he scored the only two goals for the Stars. 

In that win, Marty Turco was very strong, holding the offensively-challenged team in the game all the way into overtime. Maybe it overtaxed him, because for this game, he was a little lacking. 

The first period started with a lot of energy and an early lead for the Blue Jackets. Rick Nash (remember him? ruined opening night with an OT goal? no?) started what would be a pretty good night for him, scoring only 1:34 in. It came in a three-person rush at Turco, who was unable to stop the opposing captain. R.J. Umberger and Jakub Voracek got the assists.

Initially, Robidas and Sydor were paired, but they were quickly switched back to their respectively symmetrical partners; Sydor with Niskanen (5-55, or the “faux-number” pair) and Robidas with Janik (3-33). We decided Tippett must choose his pairings and lines based on how their numbers work together, which would explain the whole Richards-Modano thing.

Despite Ott’s strict no-fighting limitations, he was not to be stopped from getting into every other sort of imaginable confrontation. Between running his mouth (which “ain’t broken”, so of course he’ll be chirping) and getting into players’ personal space, he managed to get into a small skirmish with Mike Commodore at 3:46. Commodore got a minor for hooking Ott, who got a minor for holding the stick. Okayyy…

As Ott reacquainted himself with the penalty box, Loui Eriksson turned on the heat.

He shook off a Blue Jacket along the boards to get the puck behind the net to Richards. Then, as he headed towards the front of the net, Richards passed it back, setting Loui up nicely to wrist it in behind Pascal Leclaire. Trevor Daley got the second assist.

Only a few minutes after he got out of the box, Ott got a little TOO rowdy, elbowing Jared Boll and getting sent right back in. This time, he put the team at a costly disadvantage. 

Ott’s penalty was at 8:52, and at 10:02, the Blue Jackets broke the tie. 

This time it was the team’s star rookie, Derick Brassard, scoring his tenth of the season. It was a showy move, as he threw off James Neal and outskated Nicklas Grossman to get to the net before tricking Turco into moving out of position and tossing the puck in to make the game 2-1. 

Kris Russell and Pascal Leclaire got assists. 

The game got even more feisty, with the teams exchanging hits and takeaways before the puck got deflected out into the crowd. You’d have thought the TV timeout would provide a cool down, but it was only ten seconds off the following faceoff (at 11:26) that Fredrik Modin was whistled for hooking Ott.

The Stars’ struggling power play did not capitalize on the opportunity, kept from really getting any shots off on Leclaire.

The game continued with building tension between the teams, coming to a boil following a big hit by James Neal on Fedor Tyutin. The hit was perfectly clean, and Tyutin himself did not take offense to it, but Columbus rookie Derick Brassard did. Brassard, 6’1” and 190 lbs compared to Neal’s 6’3” and 205 lbs, dropped the gloves in a blatant challenge for “rookie fisticuffs”. Neal obliged, having a quick and one-sided go for his first NHL fight. Brassard had to ask him to stop, having dislocated his shoulder in awkwardly grabbing Neal, and Neal kindly obliged. 

Turns out, the rookie will be out for the season, because his shoulder requires surgery. A very poor, regrettable choice he made, but we still wish him a speedy recovery.

After fighting majors had been distributed and the attention turned to playing, they dropped the puck for a faceoff and… another fight.

This one was between Krys Barch and Jared Boll. It was a bit of a sorry showing for Barch, but the pair of scrums got both team even more fired up.

With the period winding down 2-1 in favor of the Blue Jackets, Loui Eriksson didn’t hesitate to grab at a chance to tie it up.

With 2 seconds left before the first intermission, Joel Lundqvist picked up a rebound and took it to the net, only to slide a pass back to an oncoming Loui Eriksson. Leclaire couldn’t follow the smooth move and Loui had his second goal of the game and fourth straight goal for the Stars.

Second period.

If you weren’t thinking “Loui hat trick??” at this point, you’re probably in the minority.

Marc Methot got two minutes for hooking right off the bat, at 00:42, setting Eriksson up for that hat trick before even reaching the half point of the game.

Maybe the other Jackets didn’t feel like it was enough advantage, and were being weirdly generous? Either way, it only took six seconds for Michael Peca to cross check someone and put the Stars on a 5-on-3.

Richards started the play, sending the puck across the ice to Ribeiro, who played with it a moment before rushing the net and trying to cram it past all the bodies in the crease. One of those bodies belonged to Eriksson, who had parked there and happened to be handy for the rebound opportunity created by Ribeiro. In it went, and Loui Eriksson got to celebrate his first career hat trick at 1:20 in the second, face-down against the ice courtesy of a forceful Blue Jacket.

Richards and Ribeiro swept in and forced said Jacket off of Loui, who really didn’t seem to care about who sat on him because he just got his first hat trick!

Yayyyy Loui!

The Jackets got one of their guys back, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off a very energetic Stars power play.

Barely a minute later, at 2:39, the PP struck again. This time it was rookie James Neal.

Mike Ribeiro, who almost seemed to be perpetually on the ice, fed the puck to Matt Niskanen, whose blast from the blue line was deflected past Leclaire. He was initially credited for the goal, but later it was determined that Neal did in fact get his stick on it.

Umberger responded a bit later, at 3:59, after a number of frantic scrambles in the Stars defensive zone.

Columbus seemed to get the opportunity to tie the game when Mike Modano got a minor for hooking at 5:46, but it came and went without a goal.

Instead, at 8:57, the Stars would rebuild their two-goal lead. This time it was Brad Richards off his backhand, with assists to Joel Lundqvist and Fabian Brunnstrom.

Midway through the period, Krys Barch accepted another fight, this time with Mike Commodore. Barch did a little better in this one, though Commodore got the takedown.

Both got fighting majors. Lundqvist joined Barch in the box a few seconds later, called for roughing, putting the Blue Jackets on power play again.

While they did not manage to score on that power play, it still allowed them to build enough momentum to close the gap once more. Kristian Huselius put the game at 5-4 at 14:38 in the second period, with an assist from Umberger. 

Jared Boll got a 10 minute misconduct late in the period (15:23) and Methot got two minutes for roughing even later (19:21), but Dallas could not convert the man-advantage into a stronger lead.

The second period expired and the third began.

The first half of the third was pretty uninspired, especially in comparison to the first part of the game. An exchange of shots, hits, and saves took place, with neither team coming out ahead. 

The stalemate was broken at 14:47, when James Neal took a minor penalty for hi sticking Manny Malhotra. 

Stars PK, mainly Modano, was able to limit the chances of the Jackets’ late power play, but they let their guard down when they returned to even strength. Columbus had again built momentum off the PP and used it to tie the game and ruin what had been a two-goal lead.

The goal was at 17:14, from Rick Nash, assisted by Tyutin. 

Third period ended and the game went into overtime. 

It looked like the game in which Loui Eriksson scored his first hat trick would end up a disappointing loss, with a healthy lead lost and a fast goal in OT.

Only thirteen seconds in, Malhotra crashed the net, his attempt stopped by Turco the first time but the rebound shoved past as he tripped over the sprawling goaltender. The goal went to review, where it was determined that the puck was kicked into the net with a forward motion. Whether or not it was (or even could have been) intentional was up in the air, but the fact was that the puck was put past the goaltender because of the forward motion of the skate, and the goal was disallowed.

The anger of the Blue Jackets, who felt the goal was good, was not enough to force another goal past Turco, and the game went into a shootout.

Dallas got the first attempt, taken by Brad Richards. His wrister got past Leclaire, giving the Stars an early advantage. 

Huselius was next. He got the puck past Turco, but it hit the post and deflected away. 

Brunnstrom was given the next attempt, as a reward for a good game. It was a good try, but lacked speed, and was stopped by Leclaire. 

Rick Nash went out to tie the shootout score, but Turco made a strong save. 

Ribeiro, so far a shootout superman this season, came out to try and cement the deal. Rather than try something fancy, he utilized a fast and accurate wrist shot to put the shootout at 2-o Dallas and win the game.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Eriksson, Nash, Richards
  • Eriksson’s hat trick, added to his two goals from the last Stars game, equaled five straight goals for the team. This matched the franchise record, set in 1973 by Minnesota North Star Dan Grant. 
  • Marty Turco allowed five goals and had a measly .821 sv%, but blanked the Blue Jackets in the shootout to give his team the win.
  • Four Stars had multi-point nights. Eriksson had his three goals, Richards had a goal and three assists, and Lundqvist and Ribeiro each had two assists.
  • Conclusion: The game showcased some firsts (hat trick, fight) but also some things the team’s become far too familiar with (5 goals allowed, leads lost, OT goals against). It was an entertaining game and a good two points, but still showed some glaring weaknesses.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: minus-one for the team-worst +/- at -3; -1
Stephane Robidas: two for leading in TOI and blocked shots and having seven hits; +2 
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley: two for the assist; +2
Krys Barch: two for the fights, one for effort, one for appropriate timing, but minus-two for losing them both; +2
Toby Petersen: minus-one for royally stinking at faceoffs; -1
James Neal: three for the goal, one for the fight with Brassard, one for winning the fight, and one for stopping the fight when asked to;  +6
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, one for leading in SOG, and one for scoring on 75% of his shots on goal; +11
Doug Janik: one for being the only Star to end in the positive +/- with +1; +1
Marty Turco: two for coming through in the shootout and winning the game but minus-one for otherwise having been a sieve; +1
Joel Lundqvist: two for each assist and two for a ridiculous team-high nine hits; +6
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist and two for the shootout goal; +6
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for each assist, and two for the shootout goal; +11
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

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