SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: That period was pretty much controlled by the Stars, who were skating better than they did in the first. Shots were 12-1 favoring Dallas in the middle frame and they generated plenty of chances and zone time in the period, getting the Jackets backed into their own zone for long stretches. A timely penalty kill late in the period kept hte 3-0 lead intact headed to the third period, where the Jackets need to re-group and get back to the heavy game they displayed in the first.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets wanted a quick start on the second night of a back-to-back, and they got it tonight against the Stars. Boone Jenner got it started 1:14 into the game, ripping a wrister high glove on Dan Ellis for an early lead and the Jackets kept going. Their forwards have done well keeping the puck moving north and it's produced some really good shifts. The power play continues to click and so does Artem Anisimov; the big Russian scored his fourth goal in as many games late in the first period to make it a 3-0 game, cleaning up a rebound from James Wisniewski's point shot. Shots are only 9-5 in favor of the Jackets but they've made the most of their good chances so far in the game.
UPDATE (11:05 AM): Fedor Tyutin, out with an ankle injury, has resumed skating on his own but there's no clear timetable for his return. There are no immediate plans for the Jackets to recall a defenseman from Springfield, Richards said.
UPDATE (10:55 AM): Ryan Murray's status is considered day-to-day, according to Richards and he will not play tonight. Cody Goloubef is slated to go into the lineup in his place. No changes to the forward group.
UPDATE (10:50 AM): Todd Richards just announced that Sergei Bobrovsky will start tonight vs. Dallas.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets arrived back in Columbus late last night and complete their back-to-back tonight against the Dallas Stars. The Stars also played last night and neither team is expected to hold a formal morning skate today. We'll have game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central, though, so stay tuned. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Stars, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets are in the middle of a stretch that sees them play three games in four nights and six in nine, so they'll be busy and could need to make some lineup changes as a result. Nothing was planned after last night's game in Toronto, but that could change after the team meets at the arena this morning.
One decision rests in goal: Curtis McElhinney may get the start against Dallas after Sergei Bobrovsky played last night. The Stars are expected to go with Dan Ellis in net after Kari Lehtonen played Monday night against Buffalo.
Because the NHL schedule is an occasionally-quirky thing, the Blue Jackets will play six of their next seven games against Western Conference opponents beginning tonight against Dallas.
The last time these two teams met, it was one of the highest-stakes games of the 48-game season in late April at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Columbus, looking to break through into the West's top 8, was up against a team in an identical situation - but it was the Blue Jackets who broke a 1-1 deadlock in the third period and left Texas with two huge points, setting the stage for that memorable season finale against Nashville.
For many reasons (namely Kari Lehtonen), this has been a tough match-up for the Blue Jackets. While Lehtonen is not expected to start this game, he's been a terror for Columbus over the years and has stolen more than a few games from the Jackets. His backup, one-time Predators netminder Dan Ellis, is slated to start at Nationwide Arena in the first of two meetings between the two teams over the next week.
These are important games for the Blue Jackets to accumulate points in, too: without the risk of an in-conference three-point game or giving up points to conference opponents, the Jackets need to pick up wins against the West and recently went 1-1-1 on a difficult road trip through California. The only upcoming opponent that's not currenty in playoff position is Nashville, but the Predators got star goaltender Pekka Rinne back from an infection this week and he should be ready to go against Columbus on the weekend.
AT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
THURSDAY, 8 P.M.
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