Patrik Laine and the Columbus Blue Jackets will bid to make more of an impact when they host the Dallas Stars for a second straight game on Thursday.
Laine’s much-anticipated debut with his new team wasn’t memorable in his eyes, as the 22-year-old registered two shots and a minus-2 rating in the Blue Jackets’ 6-3 loss to the Stars on Tuesday.
“It was tough at the beginning,” Laine said of his first game since being traded from the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 23. “The legs weren’t quite there. My head was definitely not there. My hands were not there. And, obviously, a new system and linemates. But I’m not here to make excuses. I think I wasn’t at the level I need to be for this team to be able to win.”
While Laine wasn’t interested in making excuses, a fair point could be made that he was playing in his first game since the Jets’ season opener on Jan. 14. In that contest, Laine capped a three-point performance (two goals, one assist) by scoring in overtime of Winnipeg’s 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.
“I think he’s looking for more shots to get on net, but he can pass the puck,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “That’s one thing we can see right away. He can pass the puck and he’s not afraid to make plays in traffic. … I think he played 20-plus (minutes). He’s going to get that. That’s how we’re going to get him acclimated in some sort of conditioning, into game conditioning.”
The Stars’ Joe Pavelski certainly is in game condition, as he collected two goals and two assists on Tuesday for the second time season. The 36-year-old became the second-oldest member of the franchise to notch multiple four-point performances in a season (Sergei Zubov, 37, 2007-08).
Pavelski boasts team-leading totals in goals (seven) and points (14) in seven games this season. He is averaging two points per game, tied with Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (24 points in 12 games) for tops in the NHL this season (minimum five games).
Defenseman John Klingberg set up both of Pavelski’s tallies on Tuesday, with the second one igniting a four-goal second period. Klingberg’s eight assists lead the Stars.
“Joe and John have a pretty good thing going,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “They work on the tip and screens, so they’ve been working together very well. They work together in practice, but they’re the key guys on this team to ignite the offense.”
Speaking of offense, Dallas has scored at least six goals in three games this season. Their 4.14 goals-per-game average trails only the Montreal Canadiens (4.40) for the most in the NHL, while Columbus’ 2.36 per contest isthe fifth worst in the league.
Mikhail Grigorenko collected a goal and an assist on Tuesday for his first multi-point performance with the Blue Jackets.
Eric Robinson set up Grigorenko’s third-period goal to boost his point total to five (two goals, three assists) in his past six games. Robinson was held off the scoresheet in his first five games of the season.
–Field Level Media