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Tampa Bay
Lightning
Columbus
Blue Jackets

28 SOG
28 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
TBL
CBJ
game recap

Lightning hold off Blue Jackets 3-2

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 10:02 PM

NHL.com

Three Stars of the Game
Mathieu Garon
1st
SA: 28TOI: 60:00
GA: 2EV: 20-21
PIM: 0PP: 6-7
SV%: .929SH: 0-0
Vinny Prospal
2nd
G: 0Shots: 1
A: 2Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 20:22
Steven Stamkos
3rd
G: 1Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 1
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 21:21
The Tampa Bay Lightning are starting to look like the team that came within a game of the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

After a 1-7-0 skid stretching back to November, the Lightning have now won two straight, including Saturday’s 3-2 win against Columbus at Nationwide Arena.

"Things are obviously going better now," said Steven Stamkos, who was again the hero with the game-winning goal and an assist after getting the OT winner Thursday against Calgary. "When we had a lead in the third, it was almost automatic for us last year. That's what we have to get back to."

In his first matchup against the team he spent two seasons with before signing with Tampa Bay this summer, Mathieu Garon stopped 26 shots  – including a couple of point-blank efforts during a late Jackets’ power play – to move back to .500 (8-8-1).

"We were patient in the third. We closed (out) everything," Garon said. "We didn't give them much. That's how we have to close a game."

Blair Jones and Eric Brewer scored first-period goals for Tampa Bay (14-16-2). Key for the Lightning was the top line, shuffled by coach Guy Boucher to include Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Dana Tyrell.

All three played a role in Stamkos' eventual winner at 10:05 of the second period, a goal that gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead. After some sustained pressure in Columbus zone in which both Jared Boll and Nikita Nikitin failed on clearing attempts, Lecavalier settled the puck and fed Stamkos, who found space in the left circle with Tyrell running interference. Stamkos one-timed a shot high past Steve Mason (25 saves) for his League-leading 20th goal of the season.

"He kind of faked the guy and gave it right back," Stamkos said of Lecavalier’s deft pass. "When you're playing with really good players you have to kind of expect those things. He made a great play."

Despite goals by captain Rick Nash and RJ Umberger – and two assists by Vinny Prospal -- Columbus (9-19-4) was always playing catch-up to the Bolts. The Jackets finished a five-game homestand 1-4-0, with the lone win coming in a shootout against Vancouver on Tuesday.

The Jackets pressured late, especially when Brewer was sent off for cross-checking with 3:08 left in regulation, but Garon stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period.

"We've been in this situation so many times," coach Guy Boucher said. "We were able to get away with it."

Despite being outshot 11-5 in the first period, Tampa Bay skated off at the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. Teddy Purcell hesitated in the trapezoid as he looked for options, and before the Jackets could close him down, he poked a pass through to a streaking Jones, who pushed the puck past Mason at 7:27 for his second of the season.

Stamkos recorded his 17th assist when he doubled back on a move near the left boards and crossed to Brewer, who squared just beyond the right circle and finished high past a partially-screened Mason at 18:12. It was the veteran defenseman’s first since the second game of the Lightning's first-round series against Pittsburgh last spring.

"It's been a while," Brewer said. "Maybe I should buy a Powerball."

Umberger's power-play goal 5:43 into second made it 2-1. With Jones off for cross-checking, Prospal threw a puck to Umberger, who was cutting through the crease. The pass drew Garon off his line, and Umberger circled the net swiftly and finished for his sixth of the season.

After Stamkos made it a two-goal game again, Nash got the Jackets within a goal at 12:14 when he stuffed home the rebound of Jeff Carter’s long blast for his 10th of the season. But that was as close as Columbus would come.

"You can't get behind in this League," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We had chances but couldn't beat their goaltender early on. We had to find a way to do that, especially when we had momentum going our way."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
scoring summary
1st Period
07:27
TBL
Blair Jones (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Teddy Purcell (11)
1 - 0 TBL
18:12
TBL
Eric Brewer (1) Slapshot - ASST: Steven Stamkos (17), Ryan Malone (9)
2 - 0 TBL
2nd Period
05:43
CBJ
PPG - RJ Umberger (6) Wrap-around - ASST: Vinny Prospal (18), Fedor Tyutin (11)
2 - 1 TBL
10:05
TBL
Steven Stamkos (20) Snap shot - ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (11), Dana Tyrell (5)
3 - 1 TBL
12:14
CBJ
Rick Nash (10) Backhand shot - ASST: Jeff Carter (6), Vinny Prospal (19)
3 - 2 TBL
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
11:06
CBJ
James Wisniewski  Tripping against  Dana Tyrell
12:03
TBL
Pavel Kubina  Tripping against  Antoine Vermette
15:46
TBL
Victor Hedman  Holding against  Rick Nash
2nd Period
05:09
TBL
Blair Jones  Cross checking against  Mark Letestu
15:56
TBL
Steve Downie  Slashing against  James Wisniewski
3rd Period
05:41
CBJ
Ryan Johansen  Tripping against  Steve Downie
15:57
CBJ
James Wisniewski  Unsportsmanlike conduct
16:52
TBL
Eric Brewer  Hooking against  Derek MacKenzie
goalie stats
Mathieu Garon
SA: 28TOI: 60:00
Saves: 26EV: 20 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 7
SV%: .929SH: 0 - 0
Steve Mason
SA: 28TOI: 59:09
Saves: 25EV: 24 - 27
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .893SH: 0 - 0