Columbus Blue Jackets Clinch Playoff Berth
(SportsNetwork.com) - Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 shots -- including 18 in the third period -- as the Columbus Blue Jackets locked up their first playoff berth since 2009, thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in the replay of a suspended game from American Airlines Center.
The original matchup, begun on March 10, was ended after almost 6 1/2 minutes elapsed in the first period when Stars forward Rich Peverley suffered a cardiac episode on the bench.
Wednesday's game was replayed from the start, but the visitors were allowed to keep their 1-0 lead, thanks to a Nathan Horton goal.
Once play resumed, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets, who have won three in a row. Columbus now has 93 points in the standings, two points above idle Philadelphia and Detroit, which lost in a shootout to Pittsburgh.
New Jersey and Washington were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Columbus' victory.
Trevor Daley provided the sole offense for the Stars, who remained only two points up on idle Phoenix for the second and final wild-card berth in the West. Tim Thomas made 23 saves in defeat.
Anisimov needed only 93 seconds after the opening faceoff to extend his club's advantage, sliding a low shot inside the left post from atop the crease.
It was 3-0 for Columbus during a double-minor for high sticking to Stars forward Shawn Horcoff on a Letestu deflection of a Ryan Johansen offering at 13:27.
Bobrovsky made that lead stand up in a perfect second stanza where he halted eight pucks.
Daley got one back for the hosts, digging away in the crease for the rebound of a Jamie Benn shot at the tail end of a power play with 8:39 gone in the third. The goal was aided by an extra skater, as Thomas was called off the ice during a hooking minor to Jackets forward Cam Atkinson.
Thomas was called to the bench once more with 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation, and Dallas put on the pressure. Bobrovsky was equal to the task, however, making 17 saves.
Columbus suffered a four-game defeat to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round five seasons ago, which was the franchise's first foray into the postseason since entering the NHL for the 2000-01 season ... The Blue Jackets will continue to jockey for playoff positioning with games at Tampa Bay on Friday and in Florida on Saturday ... The Stars host St. Louis Friday and head to Phoenix on Saturday.