COLUMBUS, Ohio – Vinny Prospal pumped his fist, glided across the ice on one knee and celebrated as if he had just scored the tiebreaking goal in the Stanley Cup finals.
Instead, it just helped the Columbus Blue Jackets take a step toward respectability.
Prospal scored from a hard angle at 1:22 of the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky had 24 saves to help the Blue Jackets end a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday.
“Once in a while it may actually go in,” the 37-year-old veteran from the Czech Republic said. “Hey, there’s never enough goals. To get a goal like that and to help the team to get a win, it’s huge.”
It was the Blue Jackets’ first victory since a shootout win on opening night in Nashville. They had been outscored 16-6 since while mustering a meagre point in a shootout loss to Detroit in the home opener a week ago.
Derek Dorsett also scored for the Blue Jackets.
“Every game’s important this time of year, especially in a shortened season,” said Dorsett, a scrapper who provides energy on the top line for Columbus. “The guys stuck with it and we got the two points.”
Bobrovsky, acquired for three draft picks from Philadelphia in the off-season, was solid in goal.
He made several outstanding saves and the defence seemed to play better as the game went on.
“Sergei was very good. He had some big saves in the third period,” coach Todd Richards said. “When a goalie makes some saves like that, that gives you confidence playing in front of him. You don’t have to think, ‘I’ve got to get the puck out’ because you know he’s back there. It gives everyone confidence.”
Philip Larsen had the Stars’ goal with Kari Lehtonen stopping 25 shots. He was at his best as the Stars killed seven penalties, including 2 minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. They have killed all 13 power plays they’ve faced on the road this season.
“We got away from the game plan and we started turning pucks over,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “Instead of them losing momentum from all the penalty kills, we gave it to them with the turnovers at the blue line.”
The Blue Jackets took the lead for good when Prospal collected the puck in the right corner and slung the puck along the goal line, appearing to catch Lehtonen by surprise. Somehow, it slipped into the net.
“I sensed there was traffic in front,” Prospal said. “I just wanted to get it on net and shoot for the pads, get a rebound—you never know—it may go in. And look what happened.”
Bobrovsky preserved the lead with a terrific stop on Michael Ryder’s one-timer from the right hash midway through the period, just before Columbus’ Adrian Aucoin hit a post with a slap shot.
Lehtonen made a spectacular save in the opening minute of the second. Jack Johnson deked and then fired a shot that Lehtonen got a piece of, the puck flipping over his shoulder. He reached back with his glove to make the grab as the puck was going into the net.
Larsen scored his first goal of the season on the power play at 4:13 of the second, rocketing a shot from the right point that slipped between two players to befuddle Bobrovsky, who was screened on the play.
Jamie Benn, playing his first game of the season after re-signing last week with the Stars, picked up an assist.
Then came the run of penalties—”a barrage” as Gulutzan called it—that the Stars survived.
But at even strength on a three-man rush, Dorsett took a nice setup from Fedor Tyutin late in the second to score on a one-timer from the left dot. That seemed to spur the Blue Jackets.
“It was a step in the right direction,” Johnson said of the win. “Once we got a lead we really played with a sense of urgency because it was really important for us to win at home.”
NOTES: Columbus was 0 for 7 on the power play, Dallas 1 for 4. … Dallas RW Jaromir Jagr, needing just one goal to break a tie with Luc Robitaille (667 goals) to move into 10th on the all-time list, returned to the Dallas lineup after missing one game with a bad back. … Following Tuesday’s road game at Minnesota, Columbus will play six straight games at Nationwide Arena—its longest homestand of the season. … Columbus’ first two home games were played before capacity crowds while Monday’s game drew just 10,475.
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