NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, November 19th (All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (11-6-2) at Dallas Stars (9-5-6), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While backup Mathieu Garon has helped the Blue Jackets recover from their worst loss of the season, he hasn't taken over the starting job just yet.
Steve Mason gets his chance to rebound tonight, as Columbus kicks off a season-high five-game road trip versus the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
With Mason, last year's rookie of the year, struggling in net to the tune of a 7-5-2 mark, 3.67 goals-against average and .879 save percentage, Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock elected to go with Garon in net over the last two games. This comes after Mason was drilled for eight goals in a 9-1 loss to the Red Wings last Wednesday.
Garon has lifted the Blue Jackets to a set of shootout wins since, a pair of 3-2 victories over the Ducks and Oilers that helped Columbus go 3-1-0 on a four-game homestand.
Jakub Voracek had the deciding tally in Monday's victory over Edmonton, firing a wrister off the inside of the right post in the fourth round. Garon, who made 23 saves, then turned aside Gilbert Brule to improve to 18-4 in his career in shootouts.
"He's been good all year for us. He's given us a chance to win every night," Hitchcock said of Garon. "He's played really well. We're really happy with his professionalism. He makes big saves at the right time.
"Our guys play really well in front of him all the time. All in all, when you get a goalie that will give you quality starts like this, it's going to be a huge factor for the season."
Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist and Antoine Vermette had the other goal for the Blue Jackets, who will play the rest of the season without 19- year-old Nikita Filatov after agreeing to lend the forward to CSKA of the Kontinental Hockey League on Tuesday. The sixth overall pick of the 2008 draft had two goals in 13 games this season.
The Stars return home tonight after a 3-1 victory in Detroit on Wednesday. The controversial victory gave Dallas a win in two of its last three games and a point in five of its last eight (3-3-2).
Alex Auld stopped 31-of-32 shots faced, but one of those stops was debated. With the Stars up 2-1, Detroit's Brad May appeared to beat Auld 6 1/2 minutes into the third period off the right post. Despite replays from behind the cage which clearly showed the puck over the line inside the pipe, the score was wiped out after the nearest official ruled he had blown the whistle due to losing sight of the puck.
Mike Ribeiro and Matt Niskanen both scored, as did Loui Eriksson to run his point streak to six games (4 goals, 3 assists). James Neal added two assists to give him points in each of his last 10 games played. Neal has eight goals and seven assists over that span, which includes a two-game absence because of a groin injury.
"You always have to have good goaltending to win on the road in this league," said Stars head coach Marc Crawford. "There was also depth on our side tonight, all four lines rolled out and played well."
Marty Turco is expected to return to net tonight and has enjoyed facing the Blue Jackets. He is 14-1-2 against them with a 2.24 GAA.
Mason, meanwhile, is 0-0-1 with a 3.96 GAA in two career starts versus Dallas, which has won six of its last eight over Columbus. The Blue Jackets, though, have won four of their last six in Dallas.
The Blue Jackets are 5-4-0 on the road this year, while the Stars are 3-2-3 as the host.
11/19 10:46:47 ET