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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.

"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."



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