Neal’s shootout goal powers Stars past Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) — Rookie James Neal scored the first
shootout goal of his career to lift the Dallas Stars to a 3-2
victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.

Loui Eriksson collected a goal and an assist, Brad Richards also
scored and Marty Turco made a career-high 41 saves for the
Stars, who have won nine of their last 12 games.

Mike Ribeiro got the first opportunity for Dallas in the
shootout, but was denied by Chris Mason. Neal used a simple
tactic in his turn, skating straight up the slot and sending a
wrist shot past Mason on the glove side.

“I decide before I shoot what I am going to do,” Neal said.
“It’s totally different because he is a righthanded catcher. I
was shooting low blocker. He’s a great catcher, so I wanted to
get it up and I was able to get it up and over.

“You want to step up and make a big play and contribute. I want
to be a guy that can put the puck in the net in that situation.”

Turco stopped captain Rick Nash on the final attempt to clinch
the win.

“We didn’t play our best game tonight, but we showed a some
character in the third period and played better,” Turco said.
“At the end of the day, we got the two points and that’s all
that really matters.

“We can learn a lot from this game and play better. It may be a
good thing for us.”

R.J. Umberger netted a pair of goals in regulation for the Blue

“Just a couple of rebounds that I happened to be around the net
and able to get good enough wood on them to knock them in,”
Umberger said.

After Umberger gave Columbus a 2-1 lead at the 7:46 mark of the
second, Eriksson responded five minutes later with his 27th goal
of the season to level the contest.

Eriksson took a quick feed from defenseman Trevor Daley on the
right side of the net and slipped it past Mason’s outstretched
left pad.

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“They outshot us pretty bad in the second period, but still we
got it to 2-2 there and tied it,” Eriksson said. “The third
period, both teams had some chances, and we finally won the
game. It’s two huge points, again to take.”

The Blue Jackets had multiple chances to clinch the win in
overtime, but could not convert on two separate power-play
opportunities in the extra session. Turco stopped four shots in

“When you don’t have time off and you’re seeing a lot of rubber,
it’s kind of neat to play mind games to stay (with) it,” Turco
said. “It’s not something I look forward to, but when you’re in
the middle of it, you try to have the mentality of whatever it
takes for the team, whatever comes your way – whether it is one
or 100 – just be ready and do your job.”

“(Turco) was great today,” Eriksson said. “He saved 41 shots
today. He’s been amazing. To hold the three shots in the
shootout, too, that’s what we want from him, and he’s been doing
it. He’s been incredible.”

Mason finished with 20 saves for Columbus, which saw its
four-game winning streak come to an end.

“We have had games like this, where we’ve outplayed the team and
not won the game,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“That’s the nature of the game.

“When we went up 2-1 and had all those chances, we left the game
out there. We didn’t bury those chances and allowed them to
score that goal at the end of the power play.”

Richards netted his 16th goal of the season just 27 seconds into
the contest, but the former Conn Smythe trophy winner left the
game in the second period after suffering a wrist injury when he
was checked into the boards by Columbus rookie Jakub Voracek.

“He will be re-evaluated tomorrow,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett
said. “Upper body, re-evaluated tomorrow.”