Columbus took a 3-0 lead in its first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series aginast Tampa Bay, earning a 3-1 victory over the Lightning on Sunday night in front of a packed house at Nationwide Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus carried play through the first two periods against a Tampa Bay team missing NHL leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (suspended) and 2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman (injury), taking a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of second-period tallies. The Lightning got a goal early in the third but the Blue Jackets steadied themselves from there and got an empty-net goal in the final minute to clinch the win.
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Quote of the Game
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno: "The way we're playing is the way you need to play to win hockey games, throughout the group. I think we saw a little bit too at the end where we tensed up a little bit where they had that push. We just have to get back. I liked our game toward the end of that period where we started getting back at them and started to turn the tide. We have to make sure we keep our foot on the gas. They're obviously a team that's dangerous. You can't let up at all, but it's nice to be able to deliver in a home game for our crowd."
Video: First Round, Gm3: Lightning @ Blue Jackets
- Matt Duchene scored for the second game in a row for his second-ever postseason goal and has five points in the last two games.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand, who finished the regular season with nine goals in the last 10 games, scored his first goal of the series and had a team-high five shots on net.
- Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves including 16 in the third period as Tampa pushed to tie the game.
Columbus had a 28-10 edge in shot attempts and 12-3 edge in shots on goal in the first period, but it was a scoreless game after 20 minutes.
Each team had chances, though, in particular a quick breakaway for Josh Anderson that Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside with his right pad. Tampa Bay's Anthony Cirelli also hit the crossbar late in the period after a Blue Jackets turnover in the neutral zone at 4-on-4.
Tampa Bay also got a good chance early in the second when Ondrej Palat got loose in the slot, but Bobrovsky made the save. Shortly thereafter, Columbus had the lead thanks to Duchene, who scored at 1:44 to make it 1-0. Zach Werenski took a shot from the left point that Cam Atkinson deflected, and it went to Duchene low on the right for a backhand finish off Vasilevskiy's glove and into the net.
It was then 2-0 at 8:24 thanks to a Columbus power-play goal. Alexandre Texier got the puck at the left point to Seth Jones, who faked a shot and then teed up Bjorkstrand for a snipe into the far top corner over Vasilevskiy.
Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm3: Bjorkstrand wires home power-play goal
Tampa pushed late in the period to draw one back but couldn't solve Bobrovsky, and there was a huge shot block by David Savard in the last two minutes as Tyler Johnson had gotten loose back door for a one-timer.
The Bolts also had a strong start to the third that included Alex Killorn hitting the post about two minutes in. Bobrovsky then made a huge save about four minutes in, as Palat redirected a centering pass from the top of the crease but it hit the pad of the CBJ goaltender.
Columbus could hold the fort against the deluge for only so long, though, as Palat scored at 4:40 to make it 2-1, putting in his own rebound from in front of the cage off a pass from Erik Cernak.
The Blue Jackets settled things down from there for a bit and nearly scored when Atkinson set up Ryan Dzingel with a breakaway chance, but under pressure he could not beat Vasilevskiy.
Finally, though, Columbus polished it off with 59.9 seconds to go as Atkinson fired into an empty net to give the Jackets their first-ever 3-0 playoff series lead.
By the Numbers
Tampa Bay's three shots on goal in the first period was the fewest allowed in a home playoff game period in CBJ history. … Texier's assist on the power-play goal was his first-ever postseason point. ... Scott Harrington also notched his first-ever postseason point with an assist on Atkinson's empty-net goal. … Columbus improved to 4-for-8 on the power play in the series. ... Columbus has 46 goals in its last 11 games going back to the regular season. ... Brandon Dubinsky won 12 of 14 faceoffs while Duchene was 9-2 at the dot … Cernak has a point in all three games for Tampa Bay. … The attendance of 19,224 was the third largest crowd in Nationwide Arena history. ... Tampa Bay was held without a power play. ... Atkinson now has seven career playoff goals, most in franchise history. ... Bobrovsky has saved 69 of the last 71 shots he's faced. ... Tampa Bay has lost three in a row for the first time all season.
Columbus made one change to the lineup used in the first two games, with defenseman Markus Nutivaara sidelined with an upper-body injury and Adam Clendening drawing in. Scratches were forwards Alexander Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak and Eric Robinson; defensemen Nutivaara, Adam McQuaid (upper body), Andrew Peeke and Vladislav Gavrikov; and goaltenders Keith Kinkaid and Elvis Merzlikins.
Game 4 will be Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena with a 7 p.m. start. TICKETS