By Rick Gethin, The Sports Xchange
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Defenseman Seth Jones scored 46 seconds into overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets extended the Dallas Stars’ losing streak to three games with a 3-2 overtime victory in front of 10,141 at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.
“We moved (the puck) around a little bit,” Jones said, “but nothing seemed to be going on. So, I decided to put one on net. There was a great screen in front and I couldn’t even see the goalie’s eyes.
“I heard it hit the post, but I didn’t know that it went in. A second or two later, I saw it sitting in the net.”
Sam Gagner sent the game into overtime for Columbus, tying the score on a power-play goal with 15.1 seconds left in regulation.
With an all-too familiar slow start by the club, Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky played a solid opening 20 minutes, turning aside all 18 shots the Stars fired at him. He stopped 36 of 38 shots when the final horn sounded.
The Stars were faster in their transitions, staying a step ahead of the Blue Jackets as they transitioned through the neutral zone. They were also more aggressive on the forecheck early in the game, controlling the pace and forcing Columbus to commit myriad turnovers.
“You have to stick with it (because) you never know what can happen,” said Blue Jackets team captain Nick Foligno. “We talked about it between the second and third period. This is a game that you win and it makes a big difference come springtime in April. These are points that you need.
“I’m proud of us, because we found a way to get two (points) tonight.”
Sensing his team needed a spark to shake them from their malaise, Foligno dropped the gloves with Dallas’ Antoine Roussel seven minutes into the game.
One minute after Foligno and Roussel fought, the Blue Jackets generated their first shot on goal. Columbus then proceeded to put five shots on Stars goaltender Antti Niemi over the next four minutes.
“We played a heck of a game until the last minute,” said a frustrated Dallas coach Lindy Ruff after the game. “We took a tough penalty and I think we overplayed the (penalty) kill a little bit. It’s a disappointing loss.”
Foligno opened the scoring at 3:50 of the second period to give Columbus a 1-0 lead with a quick, rising shot from the left circle, getting it past Niemi. He leads all Columbus players with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists).
The Stars evened the score on a snipe from forward Jason Spezza that sailed past the shoulder of goalie Bobrovsky at 10:13 of the second period.
Dallas then pounced on a sleepy start to the third period by the Blue Jackets. The Stars took their first lead of the night at 1:13, as Tyler Seguin beat Bobrovsky with a quick release along the goal line. Seguin leads the Stars with eight points (5 goals, 3 assists).
“Our first period was just a bad period,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said. “But I thought as the game went on, we got better. (Bobrovsky) gave us a chance to get our legs underneath us.
“It’s a step in the right direction for the team to find a way to win a tight-knit game like this.”
The Blue Jackets had a late power-play opportunity with 59.9 seconds remaining in the game, down 2-1, after Johnny Oduya chopped the stick out of Foligno’s hand.
Gagner scored the equalizer off a drop pass from Cam Atkinson.
It was a great play by him,” said Gagner of Atkinson’s pass, “to suck some defenders in and just kind of lay it in there for me. It was definitely a good feeling to that (game-tying goal).”