Rapid Reaction: Columbus 4, Stars 1
December, 29, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
DALLAS -- That was ugly for the Stars. They came in as heavy favorites against the worst team in the NHL and couldn't get the job done in a 4-1 loss at American Airlines Center. Some quick thoughts on tonight's game:
* That was a Columbus team that had not won a regulation road game all season before Thursday. And with Boston and Detroit looming, those were two points the Stars certainly wanted (and probably thought they'd get) on home ice. That's not what the Stars had planned.
* Columbus led after two periods eight times before doing so again on Thursday. Coming in, they were 2-4-2 in those games with no regulation wins and were outscored 48-24 in the third period. But they managed to reverse the trend against Dallas.
* The storyline coming into the game was all about Kari Lehtonen's return. He was out for 12 games with a groin strain and returned to face the team with the worst record in the NHL. Lehtonen faced a steady diet of shots and the Blue Jackets had better scoring chances than the Stars through the first 40 minutes despite being outshot.
* Lehtonen had some nice saves, especially late in the second period. Here are some highlights of three saves made in the final few minutes:
-- Mark Letestu had a nice attempt on a back hand in close and Lehtonen got the blocker up to stop it.
-- Jeff Carter came in and appeared to have a rebound attempt, but Lehtonen skated out and smothered the puck before Carter could get to it.
-- Vinny Prospal received a quick pass from Rick Nash to the right of the net and fired one as Lehtonen slid over and managed to get just enough of his glove on it to turn it away.
The saves kept the score 2-1 Columbus going into the third period.
* The Stars struggled defensively the whole night. Philip Larsen had a rough game. He turned pucks over and wasn't able to get a body on some of the Blue Jackets' key personnel. That included Rick Nash, who scored Columbus' third goal after Larsen couldn't get to him. Nash simply skated around Larsen and rifled a shot on net for the goal.
* Vernon Fiddler scored the Stars' only goal of the first period as part of a lively shift. Fiddler put in a rebound after racing to the front of the net. He provided plenty of energy and also was very good in the faceoff circle (12-for-17 through two periods).
* The Stars' power play was an area of concern coming into the game and they got two chances late in the third period down two goals and couldn't do much of anything. At one point, the crowd booed the Stars' inability to move the puck and set something up in the offensive zone. Dallas was 0-for-3 on Thursday and is now 2-for-20 over the last six games and 3-for-28 over the last eight. Yikes.