Last night's game between the Blue Jackets and the Stars was a wild tilt. A total of 10 goals before the shootout on 45 shots. So, the netminding wasn't exactly top-notch, but some nights that's how it is going to be. The goals that were getting by the goalies at both ends were not "pretty" ones, for the most part. And again, that's how it is some nights.
Overtime was rather controversial, as the Blue Jackets appeared to win it 13 seconds in. However, upon review, the office in Toronto determined that the goal was scored with a "distinct kicking motion". While watching the replays, I didn't think they'd call it back. There was a kicking motion, but it was pretty apparent the puck had bounced off his leg already and was going in to the net. Apparently Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock agreed with my thoughts:
"We won that game,'' Hitchcock said. "I don't care what score they put up."But, this was a similar call to the goal Morrow had called back in the playoffs last year. So, I guess it's good that the league is calling them the same across the board. Stars head coach Dave Tippett was reminded of that goal as well:
"When I saw it on the board up above, it looked exactly like the one Brenden Morrow had called back last year," Tippett said. "If that was the precedent, then I've seen it before and you know my opinion on it."
The shootout showed a couple of very pretty goals. Richards came in so fast and hard for the first shot you would have thought he'd been resting on the bench the whole game - a very pretty shot. And Ribiero was able to go out and have fun again...very little artistic flair on this one, as opposed to his goal against LA and his attempt against Anaheim last month, but he got the goal and it was still a nice looking one. I think it's great we have someone who entertains on this shot - he gets people excited when he comes up to take a shot.
Some things that stood out to me from last night:
* Loui Eriksson continued his hot play, picking up his first NHL hat trick. ESPN is tracking him on a 45-goal pace this season. It's been some time since the Stars have had a 40-goal scorer, and it'd be nice if he can continue the pace. My guess is that he'll remain steady, but it's more likely he'll end up around 35 goals. Still a very successful year if he can do that!
* Brad Richards had a goal and 3 assists - he leads the team with 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) this season. His 4-point evening matched his point total from the previous 9 games, so this was definitely great to see from him. Richards has been fighting the puck a bit over the past month or so, and he just needs a couple of productive games under his belt and I think he'll return to form.
* James Neal dropped the gloves to fight Derick Brassard in the first period. It was a bit surprising to see Brassard drop the gloves (Neal too, for that matter!) because he's not known as a "fighter". Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, that fight cost them - Brassard injured his shoulder in the melee, and will be out for the next 3-4 weeks. Neal landed 2 or 3 very good rights, and cut Brassard near the eye too. Good scrap by Neal.
The Stars are preparing for a trip to Ontario, Canada now. They play in Ottawa on Saturday night and then will take to the ice on Tuesday to play the Toronto Maple Leafs. It will be the first time many of us will be able to get a look at former Star Niklas Hagman in his new blue-and-white sweater, if he is able to play. Hagman has been sidelined after receiving a concussion on the 6th of December against the Washington Capitols. It looks like he'll be ready to go in time though. The Stars are really missing Hagman this year; obviously more so with all the injuries that have run through the Dallas team. He has 19 points through 27 games so far this season. He's on pace for a 50 point season, which would be a career high for him. Congrats, Hags - take a night off when the Stars come to town, okay?