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Blue Jackets, Lightning meet for Sunday matinee in Columbus

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Tampa Bay Lightning have dropped their previous three games, losing 4-2 to the Flyers on Mar. 7, falling 1-0 to the Bruins in overtime on Mar. 8 and again to the Flyers 3-1 on Friday night.

Goals from Sam Gagner and Matt Read gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the second period on Friday night. At 7:56, Brayden Schenn added on, making it a 3-0 game after 40 minutes. Brian Boyle scored the Lightning’s lone goal at 17:18, but Tampa was unable to rally and fell 3-1 at Amalie Arena.

As of Saturday, the Lightning occupy in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 39-24-5 record. Tampa is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, so the hockey has been solid overall despite the recent slump. They're facing another big game on Sunday afternoon in Columbus, so the Blue Jackets can expect a desperate team not unlike what they faced Tuesday and Friday against Detroit and Pittsburgh, respectively.

The Blue Jackets are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and, most recently, dropped a 3-2 decision to the Penguins on Friday at Nationwide Arena. Columbus scored first, but gave up three second-period goals that proved to be the difference in front of a sold-out crowd at the home barn.

Sergei Bobrovsky made his first start since Jan. 21 and certainly did his part in his return, making 28 saves and giving the Blue Jackets a fighting chance in the third period.

Back on Dec. 26, the Blue Jackets opened a two-game Florida swing in Tampa against the Lightning.

Scott Hartnell broke a 1-1 tie 3:07 into the second period by redirecting a shot from Dalton Prout past Ben Bishop, but from there, the Blue Jackets ran into some penalty trouble and it opened the game up for the Lightning.

Tampa scored three power play goals in an eight-minute span in the second period, taking a 4-2 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes. Steven Stamkos scored the first two and Nikita Nesterov added on the third, making it a painful middle frame for Columbus. The Blue Jackets were unable to rally and Jason Garrison scored for Tampa in the third, making it a 5-2 final.

The Blue Jackets are 7-11-3 in the all-time series against the Lightning, and 0-2-0 in the 2015-16 season.

Steven Stamkos has garnered league-wide attention for his pending free agent status, but he's put together another solid season while leading the way offensively for his team. Stamkos has scored 29 goals - most on the Lightning - and a total that's good for eighth-most in the NHL.

Additionally, his 12 power play goals are fourth-best in the league and his six game-winning goals are the seventh-most in the league. The Lightning captain has been a big part of the team's mid-season surge that's got them into the conversation for an Atlantic Division title.

The Markham, Ontario, native was the Lightning's first pick at No. 1 overall in the 2008 NHL Draft. Still only 26 years old, Stamkos has recorded 305 goals and 245 assists for 550 career points with the Lightning.

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