Bill Meltzer: Stars Gameday: 1/6/15 vs. Blue Jackets


Looking to get back on the two-point track after sustaining an overtime loss in their last game, the Dallas Stars (18-14-6) play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets (17-17-3) on Tuesday night. Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.

This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season.

On Oct. 14, the Stars claimed a 4-2 win in Columbus.

The Stars have recently played their best hockey of the season. The club has points in nine of the last 10 games (8-1-1) while getting offensive contributions from multiple sources and lowering their season goals against average to 3.24 through 37 games — the Stars’ team GAA was 3.53 after 29 games — to enable the club to pull within five points of a wild card position in the Western Conference.

In 10th-place in the Western Conference, Dallas currently holds two games in hand on eighth-seeded Winnipeg. The Stars play five of their next eight games on home ice prior to the NHL All-Star break.

Dallas enters this game coming off a hard-fought 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Goals by team captain Jamie Benn, defenseman brother Jordie Benn and a pair of tallies by veteran winger Erik Cole built leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-2. Kari Lehtonen had an uneven performance in stopping 33 of 38 shots.

Entering this game, Tyler Seguin leads the NHL’s Rocket Richard Trophy race with 26 goals and is second in the Art Ross Trophy race with 47 points; one point behind Philadelphia Flyers’ right winger Jakub Voracek. Jamie Benn is second on the Stars with 12 goals and 34 points in 38 games.

The Stars made a roster move since their last game, assigned forward Travis Morin to the AHL’s Texas Stars on Monday. On the injury/illness front, Shawn Horcoff is day-to-day while feeling under the weather. Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) and D Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration from a skate cut) remain on injured reserve.

Columbus has also played good hockey of late. The club is 11-2-1 over its last 14 games and has won three of its last four matches.

The Blue Jackets enter the game coming off a 4-3 road win in Colorado on Sunday. David Savard scored in the final 1:01 to win the game. The game saw Columbus trail 1-0 early, score each of the next two goals, retake the lead at 3-2 shortly after Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog tied the score and then yield a late second period goal to Cody McLeod to go to the second intermission tied at 3-3.

Brandon Dubinsky, who missed most of the season to date due to injury, tallied his first and second goals of the season. Ryan Johansen tallied his 12th goal of the season. Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney got the start in net, stopping 26 of 29 shots.

Nick Foligno leads Columbus in scoring with 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 36 games. He is one point ahead of Johansen (12 goals, 22 assists in 37 games). Defenseman Kevin Connauton, whom the Blue Jackets claimed off waivers from the Stars on Nov. 18, has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 17 games since joining Columbus and is minus-one at even strength.

Columbus has been riddled with injuries the entire season, leading the NHL in man-games lost. At one point earlier this season, nine regular starters were out of the lineup. The current list:

Cam Atkinson (shoulder) and Mark Letestu (abdominal muscle strain) are officially on a day-to-day. Artem Anisimov (torn biceps), Brian Gibbons (knee), Boone Jenner (back) and Ryan Murray (knee) are on injured reserve. Power forward Nathan Horton (degenerative back issues) may not be able to resume his career per pre-season reports.