COLUMBUS, Ohio – Loui Eriksson said the game was no work of art—unless you can mould a masterpiece out of hard work, muscle and grit.
Eriksson fought off two defenders to get his stick on a rebound and jammed it in 3:03 into overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” Eriksson said. “But we’ll take the two points and move forward.”
Eriksson was being held back by a pair of Blue Jackets but reached for the puck as he was falling. Before collapsing on the ice, he whipped it past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for the winner.
Cody Eakin had given the Stars a 4-3 lead with 6:24 left in regulation when his shot from the right wing handcuffed Bobrovsky, the puck trickling through his leg pads and across the goal line.
But the Blue Jackets once again tied it—for the fourth time—when Nick Foligno tossed a hard pass from the left short boards to R.J. Umberger, who scored from the right hash with just 1:34 remaining to force overtime.
“That was a back-and-forth game, like a ping-pong game,” said Dallas’ Antoine Roussel, who like Eakin and Derek Roy had an assist to go with his goal.
Brenden Morrow also scored, and Stephane Robidas and Brenden Dillon each had two assists for the Stars, who had lost three of four coming in.
“I thought we had some jump tonight,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We limited their chances. The four goals (surrendered) we didn’t like, but the shots were 39-20. We played a good road game.”
It was a rare second-night win for the Stars. They came in just 1-15-2 in the second game of their past 18 back-to-backs dating to last season.
“I’m sure you’ll keep bringing that up,” Gulutzan half-joked with reporters. “It wasn’t easy. That is a hard-working (Columbus) team. It was good to win.”
Cam Atkinson, Nikita Nikitin and Derek Dorsett also had goals for Columbus, which opened a stretch with 10 of the next 12 games coming at home. But the Blue Jackets still ran out of comebacks to lose their third in a row overall and sixth in seven games.
“We kept coming. I don’t think that’s ever been a question about this team this year,” Umberger said. “The problem is we’re just playing from behind too much. It’s hard to play catch-up. But when we do get down, we’re not quitting and that’s a positive.”
Foligno and Mark Letestu each had two assists for Columbus.
Just before the start, the Stars dealt right wing Michael Ryder and a third-round pick to Montreal for right wing Erik Cole in a swap of veteran forwards. The move came less than 24 hours after Ryder posted the first three-assist game of his career.
The Blue Jackets were without four of their top players: centres Brandon Dubinsky (knee) and Artem Anisimov (concussion), and defencemen James Wisniewski (broken foot) and Jack Johnson (shoulder). And they lost another top-line centre (Derick Brassard) to injury during the game.
“I’ve been a part of games where you play well and lose, and ones where you didn’t play well and you won,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “I thought we tried. We didn’t have the energy we needed and I don’t think they (the Stars) did, either. We just did some things that’ll get you into trouble.”
Down 3-2 going into the third, the Blue Jackets got some puck luck to tie it.
Adrian Aucoin’s shot ricocheted off a Stars player in the crease and ended up in front of Atkinson on the edge of the left circle. He lifted the puck to beat Richard Bachman for his second of the second to square it.
Eriksson said Umberger’s late goal could have been the Stars’ undoing.
“It’s always tough when you lose the lead like that,” he said. “We have to be better than that. But today we found a way to win.”
NOTES: Ryder had points in his final six games (2-7-9) with the Stars. …The Blue Jackets have killed off their last 11 penalties over four games. … Morrow’s goal 5 minutes after the start gave him 242 as a Star, moving him within one of second-place Jere Lehtinen on the franchise scoring list, well behind leader Mike Modano’s 434. … The Stars have scored at least three goals in each of their last 11 games. … Columbus has the worst record in the NHL (5-12-3, 13 points).
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