Blue Jackets’ interim coach Todd Richards said he was pleased with the way his team battled back in Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
“The problem was, we weren’t ready from the start,” he said.
The Blue Jackets got second period power-play goals from center Vinny Prospal and left-winger Rick Nash, but came up short, losing, 4-2, against the Stars, at Nationwide Arena.
The Stars used left-winger Jamie Benn’s two-goal effort to hold on for the victory. Defensemen Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski added the other markers for the Stars.
Curtis Sanford stopped 31 shots for the Blue Jackets as the team attempted to go on its first three-game winning-streak of the season.
“We really wanted to get that third win in a row,” said left-winger R.J. Umberger.
The scoring started just 1:35 into the game after Benn spun around in the slot and fired a shot that beat Sanford high to the glove side.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Blue Jackets.
Just less than three minutes later, Blue Jackets’ defenseman Marc Methot was on the receiving end of a puck to the face.
Stars’ center Tomas Vincour fired a shot from the slot that, after striking Methot in the face, fell to the crease for a tap-in by Goligoski to put the Stars up, 2-0.
“The first five minutes really killed us and put us in a big hole,” Umberger said.
Methot did not return to the game after suffering a broken jaw, Richards said.
“To get hit like that is fluky,” Richards said.
Methot was not the only casualty of the game as right-winger Jared Boll left the game with a broken foot, Richards said.
“It was a tough night body-wise, as far as injuries,” Richards said.
After giving up an early power-play goal in the second period to the Stars, the Blue Jackets finally took some of the momentum back and responded with two power-play goals of their own.
With Stars’ defenseman Sheldon Souray off for roughing later in the second period, defenseman Fedor Tyutin fired a low shot from the point that Prospal redirected into the net for the Blue Jackets’ first tally, at 8:32.
Then at 12:12 during another Stars’ penalty, center Derick Brassard slid a cross-ice pass over to Nash who buried it for his 18th goal of the season.
Richards called the play “textbook” and said it was what the team worked on in practice.
Nash said the power play was “definitely positive” and the team could take that away from the game.
The Blue Jackets added sustained pressure in the third, but were not able to find the back of the net again.
“It was tough in the third,” Nash said.
Benn added an empty-net goal with less than 10 seconds to go to seal the victory for the Stars.
Nash, despite complimenting the Stars’ execution in the third period, felt it was still up to his team to tie the game.
“It was good play by them, but we’ve got to find a way to get chances in the third,” Nash said.
Nash was still optimistic about the team’s play.
“We’re giving ourselves a chance to win and it seems like we’re following our system a lot better,” he said.
Umberger agreed that the team just needs to persevere.
“We gotta keep fighting, keep playing hard,” he said.
The Blue Jackets travel to Minnesota Saturday to take on the Wild at 8 p.m. for the final time this season.