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Stars aim to stop three-game skid vs. struggling Blue Jackets

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The Dallas Stars are earning points at the moment — just not as many as needed. But while the Stars are amid a four-game point streak, they’ll look to avoid a third consecutive loss when they host the struggling Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Dallas is sixth in the Central Division, seven points back of Nashville for the fourth and final playoff spot. Though the Stars have played three fewer games than the Predators, their 2-12 mark in games decided in overtime or a shootout is a big reason for the club’s current status.

After outscoring Chicago and Florida 9-2 to win consecutive games, the Stars fell 3-2 at Nashville in a shootout on Sunday and 3-2 in overtime versus Florida on Tuesday.

“You have to make your own luck at times,” said Dallas star Joe Pavelski, who has recorded just two of his team-leading 16 goals over the last 17 games.

“We are right there. They are tight games, but we have to start finding that extra point here.”

Dallas is 3-2-1 against the Blue Jackets this season, with one of its post-regulation victories coming 2-1 in a shootout at Columbus in the most recent meeting on March 14. Columbus is just three points behind the Stars, but also mired in a 2-8-2 rut since a 3-0-1 stretch from March 13-20.

The Blue Jackets have allowed 14 goals while going 0-2-1 following a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay on April 6. And, with the recent trades of key contributors Nick Foligno, David Savard and Riley Nash, and injuries to Zach Werenski and Boone Jenner, the challenge for Columbus to consistently win down the stretch is greater than at any point this season.

“We wouldn’t call it a step back,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said of the team’s current state. “We view this year as a disappointment, an anomaly of some kind. It’s been a very challenging year altogether for all individuals involved in our team, and we expect a big rebound next year.”

The Blue Jackets would like to see more from forward Patrik Laine, who went 14 straight games without a goal before scoring three times in the last two against Chicago. He has a goal for his only point in six games versus Dallas this season.

Teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand has just one of his team-leading 32 points in the last five games, but two goals with two assists in six against the Stars. Meanwhile, Joonas Korpisalo has allowed seven goals in his last two starts and is 2-2-1 with a 3.37 goals-against average versus Dallas this season. Backup Elvis Merzlikins is 0-4-0 with a 3.72 GAA this month.

Dallas’ Anton Khudobin (2.34 GAA this season) has yielded seven goals in losing two starts versus Columbus this season. However, rookie Jake Oettinger is 3-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA and his first career shutout against the Blue Jackets in 2020-21.

Pavelski has four goals with four assists in six games versus Columbus this season. Teammate Roope Hintz has two goals and six assists in his last three games and two each over four against the Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, Dallas rookie Jason Robertson’s recorded four of his 12 goals in the last four games.

The Stars announced Wednesday that forward Alexander Radulov (lower-body injury), who’s appeared in 11 games, will not return this season. Meanwhile, goaltender Ben Bishop (knee) also won’t play in 2021.

–Field Level Media

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