Friday, April 26, 2013
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Dallas Stars 1
Stars' slim postseason hopes go out with a whimper.
DALLAS The Dallas Stars were officially eliminated from the playoffs for the fifth straight season Thursday night at the American Airlines Center, losing 3-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The loss was their fourth straight and dropped them to 22-21-4 on the season, five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with one game left to play. Columbus' playoff hopes remained alive with the regulation win, as they improved to 23-17-7, tied with the Wild in points but with one fewer game in hand.
Dallas looked completely disinterested from the very start, as the Blue Jackets scored just 19 seconds in when Cam Atkinson stuffed the puck past Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen for his seventh goal of the season and an instant 1-0 lead.
Dallas got the equalizer at 8:43 of the second while on the powerplay. Erik Cole passed the puck to the center where it appeared to deflect off a Blue Jackets skate right to Jamie Benn, who tapped it into the empty net for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 game.
After the Detroit Red Wings beat Nashville, the Stars were mathmatically eliminated, and it showed as their complete lack of effort in the third period looked like a team ready and willing to give up. They surrendered two powerplay goals to a team that came into the game sporting a 12.8% powerplay conversion rate, the worst mark in three decades. Columbus first scored at 7:56 just three seconds into their first powerplay of the period, when Mark Letestu scored from a long range, unscreened shot that Lehtonen barely made any effort to stop. The second came at 18:20 when Atkinson scored his second of the night to ice the game away and drive the fans to the parking lot.
Lehtonen was decent until he appeared to stop trying in the third, stopping 32 of 35 shots for his fourth straight loss. Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was significantly better, making 31 saves on 32 shots for the win.
Dallas' final game is Saturday night at the AAC, where they will finish another disappointing season by playing the 23-16-8 Detroit Red Wings.