Stars swat Blue Jackets


DALLAS – Jason Arnott had an early power-play goal and Janne Niinimaa and Jaroslav Svoboda added rare goals, then the Dallas Stars had to scramble in the final minutes to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The victory was the Stars’ franchise-record 52nd of the season.

Stars goalie Marty Turco was 2:27 from a shutout when a long shot from Duvie Westcott went under him. Then, with Columbus pulling goalie Marc Denis for an extra attacker, Sergei Fedorov scored with 1:34 left to make things interesting.

It remained close all the way to the horn, with time expiring just after a shot by Rick Nash went off Turco’s right leg.

Dallas won for the third time in four games since a three-game losing streak. The Stars remained perfect in Dallas against Columbus (10-0), with Turco improving to 9-0-0 against the Blue Jackets.

At 52-22-5, Dallas has 109 points, tying the 1997-98 club for the third-best total in team history. The Stars – who are locked into the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference playoffs – have to win their final three games to top the franchise record of 114 set by the 1998-99 team that won the only Stanley Cup in team history.

Despite playing for the victory record, Dallas’ primary objective against Columbus was ending a recent trend of picking up too many penalties and getting captain Mike Modano back onto the ice after he’d missed two games with a knee injury.

Modano got off to an auspicious start by getting caught holding 42 seconds into the game, but assisted on Arnott’s goal a few minutes later. He left the ice bleeding from the bridge of his nose late in the first period after getting whacked by the shaft of Adam Foote’s stick, a play that drew a double minor, yet returned for the second period.

Denis did a nice job keeping the game close the first period and a half. The only even-strength goal he allowed was to Jaroslav Svoboda with 29 seconds left in the second period. Denis finished with 23 saves.

The Stars faced 19 power plays their two previous games and 41 over the last five, an average of 8.2 per game. Columbus had only four.

Dallas has been rolling when it has the man advantage, with Arnott’s goal on the first try giving the Stars power-play goals in 15 of their last 16 games.

Arnott’s goal was his 31st of the season, two shy of his career best. He upped his career-best point total to 73.

Niinimaa, playing his 699th career game, scored only his second goal since joining Dallas on Jan. 10. Svoboda’s goal was his fourth, the most in his four-year career.

Fedorov’s goal was his first in nine games.

Notes: Dallas D Willie Mitchell and LW Brenden Morrow were scratched, essentially to rest them before the playoffs. For instance, Morrow was termed out with “minor bumps and bruises,” a condition probably every NHL player has this time of the year. … Denver is the only other city where Columbus has never won. … Chris Osgood’s 15-0-0 record against Tampa Bay is the only active mark better than Turco’s against Columbus. … Arnott has scored 16 points in 14 career games against Columbus.

AP-ES-04-11-06 2310EDT