The Dallas Stars reclaimed the Pacific Division lead by continuing their success against a division rival on Sunday. They’ll try to add to their lead with a matchup against another Western Conference opponent they’ve dominated.
The Stars look to complete their third sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the seven-season history of the series when the clubs meet for the second time in four days in Dallas on Tuesday.
Dallas (28-18-5) moved back over Anaheim atop the Pacific by beating the Ducks 5-2 on Sunday. The Stars bounced back from a loss to the Ducks earlier in the week to improve to 7-1-1 in their last nine meetings in the series.
“We pushed back,” said Stars forward Brenden Morrow, who had two goals. “This was an important division game and we wanted a better showing.”
Niklas Hagman also scored twice to set a new career high with 18 goals as the Stars won their third straight game after going 2-6-1 in their previous nine contests.
“It’s a huge win,” said Hagman, who has four goals and three assists in his last four games. “From the start, there was some pushing and shoving and that got the crowd into it. This is the way we know we’re capable of playing.”
The Stars will try to extend their win streak against the Blue Jackets, whom they’ve dominated since the Columbus franchise began play in 2000. The Stars are 21-3-3 all-time against the Blue Jackets, including season series sweeps in 2001-02 and 2003-04.
Dallas was just 1-1-2 against Columbus in 2006-07, but has won the first three meetings of this season’s series. The Stars got shootout victories in Columbus in the first two games, then took a 3-1 victory in their return from a five-game road trip on Saturday.
Columbus (23-20-6) hoped to take advantage of a road-weary Dallas team in that game, but instead had its four-game win streak snapped while failing to capitalize on a 30-14 shots advantage.
“I thought we outplayed them, but we didn’t close,” Columbus forward Rick Nash said. “We have to close better.”
The Blue Jackets followed up that loss with another 3-1 defeat at Colorado on Sunday. Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire gave up three goals to lose for the first time in five starts.
“No reason to panic,” Leclaire said. “There is a lot of hockey left to play. We’ll put the last two games behind us.”
Leclaire is 0-1-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average in two career games against the Stars.
Dallas goalie Marty Turco, meanwhile, has dominated the Blue Jackets. He’s 11-1-1 with a 1.82 GAA and two shutouts in 13 career games against them, and held them to one goal in the Stars’ 2-1 shootout victory on Dec. 3—his only start against Columbus this season.
Turco is 10-3-2 with a 2.19 GAA in 17 games at American Airlines Center, where the Stars have won eight of 10.
Nash could be the key for the Blue Jackets. The fifth-year forward has recorded 18 goals and 11 assists while playing in 22 of the team’s wins, but has just seven goals and six assists while playing in 19 regulation losses and six overtime losses.
Nash has seven goals and four assists in 17 career games against the Stars, including one goal and two assists in three games against them this season.