The Dallas Stars reside atop the Central Division, but their hold on the position is tenuous at best given their recent results.
The Stars have dropped three in a row (0-1-2) and six of their past eight (2-1-5) heading into a Saturday clash against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dallas, following a 2-1 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday in Minneapolis, finds itself just three points ahead of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.
The Stars failed to convert on all four power-play opportunities on Friday to drop to 0-for-18 with the man advantage in their past five games.
“We’re going through a slump, like the (NHL-leading) Boston Bruins went through a slump like everybody else, but we’ll work ourselves out of it,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn scored midway into the third period, his 22nd goal of the season and third in the past four games. He notched an assist in the Stars’ 2-1 road victory over the Blue Jackets on Dec. 19.
Jason Robertson, who leads the Stars in goals (34) and assists (37), was held off the scoresheet on Friday for just the third time in the past 11 games. Robertson, however, scored the game-winning goal with 1:07 remaining in the December victory over Columbus.
Jake Oettinger made 27 saves in that contest to improve to 7-0-1 with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in eight career starts vs. the Blue Jackets.
Oettinger, however, lamented letting an opportunity slip by on Friday night.
“It felt like a playoff game. They’re a great team over there,” Oettinger said after making 31 saves against the Wild. “It’s tight out there. I had the chance to end the game in the shootout and I didn’t do it.”
Columbus followed a four-game losing skid (0-3-1) by registering two wins in its past three games, including a 3-1 triumph against the Jets on Thursday.
Kent Johnson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period vs. Winnipeg. The goal was his 12th of the season and fourth in his past eight games.
“I was looking for a pass and didn’t want to force one through the seam. I thought I could surprise the goalie there,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t a hard shot. If he sees it, he probably saves it. I didn’t even see it go in.”
Johnson also tallied with 15 seconds remaining in the first encounter against the Stars.
Former Jet Patrik Laine collected a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets in the victory over Winnipeg.
“The bye week (last week) was good for us,” Laine said. “Everyone could look in the mirror and think about what they want to do the rest of the year. We need to try and build momentum for next year, show these young guys what winning hockey is. Try to learn it now so we’re ready for next year.”
Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo sports a 4-4-1 record with a 3.35 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage in nine career starts vs. Dallas.
–Field Level Media