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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 10th (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (33-26-5) at Dallas Stars (31-23-10), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets successfully put a rough loss behind them the last time out, and they'll try to complete a three-game road trip on a positive note when they visit the Dallas Stars on Monday.
Columbus entered its current swing on a three-game winning streak before getting slammed 6-1 by the Chicago Blackhawks to open the trek on Thursday. The Blue Jackets, however, were able to put that lopsided loss in the rearview with Saturday's 1-0 victory at Nashville.
The Blue Jackets, winners of four of five and seven of their last 11 games, are trying to make the postseason for just the second time in franchise history and for the first time since being swept by Detroit in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs.
Columbus enters Monday tied with the Red Wings for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets hold the tiebreaker currently due to having more wins than Detroit, but Columbus is only one point ahead of Washington and two in front of New Jersey in the competitive race for the East's eight seed.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves to record the shutout in Saturday's tilt and Artem Anisimov tallied the game's lone goal.
Anisimov entered the neutral zone on the rush and dropped a pass back to James Wisniewski. The defenseman quickly pushed the puck back up to Anisimov, who rushed in on net with a power move and backhanded a shot past Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.
"I thought the guys were great tonight," said Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards. "First period they (Predators) came out hard and kind of put us on our heels a little bit. We had some guys step up and make plays. I thought after that point our guys did a great job."
Corey Tropp and Wisniewski picked up the helpers on Anisimov's 19th of the season that set a new career-high for the forward. The 25-year-old Russian has six goals over his last six games.
Columbus improved its road record this season to 15-15-3 with Saturday's triumph. After Monday's test at American Airlines Center, the Jackets will play two straight and three of four on home ice.
The Blue Jackets recorded a 4-2 home win over the Stars on March 4. Anisimov scored twice in that game and Bobrovsky stopped 31-of-33 shots for the win.
Columbus has taken three of four from Dallas and has won two in a row in Big D.
Dallas won for the third time in four games after beating Minnesota in a thriller on Saturday, but the victory came with a cost as Stars No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen left the game with a head injury.
The Stars trailed 3-2 after Kyle Brodziak scored at 1:23 of the third period for the Wild. Tyler Seguin scored on the power play for his 29th goal of the season with 8:49 left to tie the game and Erik Cole notched the winner with 4:49 to play to deliver a 4-3 victory.
Seguin added two assists, while Alex Chiasson and Jamie Benn also scored for the Stars.
"It was a real character win for the locker room," said Seguin.
Lehtonen started the game in net for the Stars, but left at 6:37 of the third period after being injured when he was slammed into by the Wild's Erik Haula. Tim Thomas, acquired by Dallas from Florida at the trade deadline, came in relief and stopped all six shots he faced to pick up the win his debut with the team.
The goaltender expects to sit out Monday's game, opening the door for Thomas' first start for Dallas. Lehtonen is 25-16-10 with a 2.47 goals against average and .917 save percentage this season.
After Saturday's relief victory, Thomas is 17-20-3 with a 2.85 GAA this season.
Lehtonen's injury was the lone blemish on a special day for the Stars. Not only did Saturday's victory come against a team above Dallas in the standings, but it also followed a pre-game ceremony to retire the No. 9 jersey of Stars great Mike Modano.
Modano, the franchise leader in many offensive categories and the all-time leader among U.S.-born players in goals and points, helped the Stars capture their only Stanley Cup title in 1999.
"It was just a special night and a big two points," said Cole. "And it was real nice to get a win for Mike Modano."
Dallas currently holds the second of the West's two wild card spots and the win on Saturday helped pull the Stars within four points of Minnesota for the seventh seed in the conference. Dallas is also three points ahead of ninth- seeded Phoenix.
The Stars are 18-10-6 as the host this season and will try to complete a perfect three-game homestand on Monday. After welcoming Columbus, Dallas heads out to play four of its next five games on the road.
03/10 11:03:25 ET