The Columbus Blue Jackets are moving on for the first time in franchise playoff history, downing Tampa Bay by a 7-3 score in Game 4 on Tuesday night in Nationwide Arena to capture their first-round series by a 4-0 count.
Game in a Paragraph
The Blue Jackets tallied twice in the first 3:48 and led 2-1 after an action-packed first period that also included a called-back CBJ goal for offside. Both teams scored twice in a wild second period to make it 4-3 Jackets going to the third, and Columbus held on until Artemi Panarin's empty-net goal with 1:53 left.
Video: Blue Jackets complete stunning sweep of Lightning
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "Now that we can take a breath here and we end up winning the series, I couldn't be happier. That building, I've been fortunate enough to be in some pretty big games and loud buildings, but that building otnight, that was just unbelievable. I am thrilled for not only the people that have followed this team but also the people in the organization here too. But just remember, it's one round, and we're thinking about other things as we go around here."
- Alexandre Texier scored his first-ever playoff goal with a power-play tally in the first period to open the scoring, then added an empty-netter.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois had a three-point night with a goal and two assists, his first points of the series.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied his second goal of the series, drew two penalties, and now has 10 goals in his last 12 games going back to the regular season. He also added an assist.
- Seth Jones had a two-point night with his second goal of the series as well as an assist.
Columbus jumped on Tampa Bay early to take a 2-0 lead in the opening four minutes. It was 1-0 just 2:26 in after Bjorkstrand drew a penalty on the first shift, then Texier opened his postseason account, taking a pass from Seth Jones and firing a wrister over the glove of Andrei Vasilevskiy from the top of the left circle.
Dubois made it 2-0 then at 3:48 after Adam Clendening found Bjorkstrand going back door from the right point. Bjorkstrand's one-timer went wide off the back boards but Dubois collected and tucked it into the net off Vasilevskiy's pad.
Vasilevskiy made a couple of nice stops to settle things down, though, and the Lightning then got on the board at 8:44 to make it 2-1. Columbus couldn't clear at the blue line, and Nikita Kucherov slid a pass to Steven Stamkos with speed, and Stamkos deked his way to the net before beating Sergei Bobrovsky one-on-one.
Columbus thought it had made it 3-1 on the power play at 12:23 as Cam Atkinson scored, but Tampa Bay challenged for offside and won as the puck had left the zone 37 seconds before the eventual goal.
Tampa Bay had the last five shots on goal of the first but no momentum carried over to the second as Columbus came out flying with a number of excellent chances in the opening minutes of the period. Bjorkstrand, David Savard and Atkinson all had great looks and the puck finally went in at 6:28 as Jones took a pass from Atkinson atop the right circle and blasted a slap shot by Vasilevskiy short side.
Bobrovsky then was deputized to make an excellent save just after the midway point of the game, keeping it 3-1 as Tyler Johnson was open on a bang-bang play by the right post but Bobrovsky read it perfectly and made the toe stop.
In fact, it was a less golden-looking chance that drew the Lightning back within one. Braydon Coburn collected the puck at the center point and sent a wrister toward goal, but it was deflected home by Cedric Paquette and also might have hit Scott Harrington in front, making it a 3-2 game at 13:03 of the period.
Tampa Bay then tied the score at 3 on its first power play of the past two games at 17:52 of the period. Brayden Point finally got on the board with a goal, cutting in and lifting a nifty backhander between Bobrovsky's right shoulder and the crossbar.
But the score was tied for just 54 seconds before Bjorkstrand gave Columbus a 4-3 lead. He was tripped behind his own net to draw a delayed penalty, and Columbus possessed the puck and created a 6-on-5 goal out of it. Dubois got his third point of the night, centering a pass from the right circle that deflected off Scott Harrington and sat in the crease for Bjorkstrand to drive home.
Tampa Bay's first great chance of the third came with 12:39 to play as J.T. Miller created some space and fed Point in front for a tip, but Bobrovsky swallowed it up with his glove and left pad.
Boone Jenner then hit the post with 7:30 remaining as the Jackets did everything they could to prevent a goal. It paid off, as Panarin scored an empty-net goal with 1:53 left and Texier followed 19 seconds later, then Matt Duchene added one with 8.9 seconds left.
By the Numbers
Columbus became the first team in NHL history to sweep the Presidents' Trophy winner in the first round of the playoffs (since 1985-86). ... The Blue Jackets are the fourth team in NHL history to sweep the regular season's No. 1 seed in a best of seven series. ... The seven goals set a CBJ playoff record for a game. ... Columbus scored first for the third straight game. … Clendening's assist was his first-ever playoff point. … Twelve different Blue Jackets scored in the series. ... Scott Harrington had two assists while Duchene had a goal and an assist to post a 3-4-7 line in his last three games. … The first-period goal for Tampa Bay provided Kucherov, the NHL's leading scorer, and Stamkos with their first points of the postseason, while Point's goal in the second did the same. … Columbus scored multiple goals in six of the 12 periods of the series. … There were 19,328 in Nationwide Arena for the game, third most all-time for a game. … The Blue Jackets have 53 goals in the last 12 games going back to the regular season.
Columbus kept the same lineup as Game 3, scratching forwards Alexander Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson and zac Dalpe; injured defensemen Markus Nutivaara (upper body) and Adam McQuaid (upper body) as well as Andrew Peeke and the newly signed Vladislav Gavrikov; and goaltenders Keith Kinkaid and Elvis Merzlikins.
The series is concluded and Columbus will await the winner of the Toronto/Boston series in the second round.