Jackets, Stars meet after distinctly different results
DALLAS -- When the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars meet Saturday night at American Airlines center, they will do so coming off distinctively different results earlier in the week.
Columbus (1-2-0) got its first win of the season Friday night, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2 at Nationwide Arena, the perfect way to leave town to start a four-game road trip.
"We needed this one," Columbus forward Nick Foligno told the Columbus Dispatch. "We needed to win at home. This has got to be a tough place for people to come into, and we didn't make it tough enough on the first two opponents. We had a whole week to think about it and really let it stew. There were a lot of guys with a little bit of a chip on the shoulder tonight."
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots for the Jackets to earn his first win of the season.
But the Columbus netminder was quick to credit his teammates for those two points.
"I thought we played great," Bobrovsky told Fox Sports Ohio. "We started really good. We put lots of shots on net. We just went after them. It was fun to watch. We played with some confidence, it was a great game."
However, this win came with a notable asterisk as defenseman Ryan Murray left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Columbus coach John Tortorella said postgame that Murray likely wouldn't travel with the team, meaning either Scott Harrington or Dalton Prout will replace Murray at the blueline.
Columbus also recalled forward Sonny Milano, the 16th pick in the 2014 draft after the game. Milano, 20, has three games of NHL experience from a stint in Columbus last spring.
Tortorella would not name a starting goaltender for Saturday's game following the win against Chicago, meaning he could go with Bobrovsky for a second straight night or give the nod to Curtis McElhinney, which would be his first action of the season.
Dallas (2-1-1) heads into Saturday's game still stewing a bit over a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, a rough way to start a three-game homestand.
"We didn't win enough puck battles, we didn't get above the puck, we didn't play well enough defensively to win a hockey game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the loss to the Kings after practice on Friday.
The Stars lost two forwards to injury in that game, Patrick Eaves and Patrick Sharp. Eaves picked up a lower-body injury late in the second period and did not return for the third period while Sharp experienced concussion-like symptoms after a hard hit into the boards during the second period.
Ruff said Eaves might be able to play on Saturday but said Sharp was placed on injured reserve and will not.
One player who will be returning to the ice for Dallas on Saturday is veteran forward Ales Hemsky, who will likely make his season debut against the Blue Jackets.
Hemsky has missed the first four games recovering from a groin issue he picked up during training camp. And after skating for the past few weeks, he is happy to say he now feels ready to return.
"Definitely feel better, I feel stronger," Hemsky said after practice on Friday. "Again, I had a good week and hopefully I'm ready for a game. So we'll see what they're thinking and what will happen tomorrow (Saturday)."
Ruff also has a decision to make in net of whether to start Kari Lehtonen, who largely performed well in the loss to the Kings or go back to Antti Niemi? Both veteran goalies have started two games thus far.