TAMPA, Fla. - This was the kind of game to show people who you'd like to recruit as hockey fans.
It was also a franchise record for the Blue Jackets (9-4-1), who reached 19 points through 14 games for the first time and moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division because of it.
It was a game that had a little bit of everything, though, from fortunate bounces for goals (see Seth Jones, goal No.3 this season) to great passing plays for goals (see Nikita Kucherov's 14th goal of the season and Zach Werenski's fourth).
It had great saves, by the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky and the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy. It had drama, with the Jackets scoring twice in 1:59 to turn a 4-2 deficit into a chance to beat the team that's sitting atop the NHL's overall standings with 24 points.
Alas, for Columbus, it didn't have a happy ending. Despite numerous chances after tying it, the Blue Jackets couldn't convert any into a game-winning goal.
"I like the way that we kept chipping away at it," Brandon Dubinsky said. "We stayed aggressive [in the third], we kept going after them, we were able to do what we do best, which is forecheck and get pucks deep, get on them, create turnovers and bury a couple. We've got to do that for longer stretches, especially against the good teams."
Here's how this one unfolded:
(Corsi, scoring chance data per NaturalStatTrick.com)
Goals: CBJ - Seth Jones (unassisted), 2:30; Werenski (Pierre-Luc Dubois,Markus Hannikainen), 10:55; TBL - Brayden Point (J.T. Brown, Dan Girardi), 2:54; Nikita Kucherov (Mikhail Sergachev, Vladislav Namestnikov), 3:32
Shots: Lightning 17, Blue Jackets 15
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Lightning 54.1% (20-17), Blue Jackets 45.9% (17-20)
Scoring chances: Lightning 14, Blue Jackets 6
The rundown: It started with a bang, as in the puck banged into the net off Victor Hedman's leg, off an otherwise harmless-looking shot by Jones. Goal, Blue Jackets, and things looked good early.
It got considerably worse from there, for at least the next five minutes, when the Lightning struck twice in 38 seconds.
Tampa Bay pinned the puck in the Columbus end of the rink, and got a goals from Point and Kucherov in rapid-fire succession.
Werenski tied it for the Jackets, off a pretty feed from rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, but the Jackets also went 0-for-1 on the power play in what was foreshadowing of things to come on an 0-for-4 evening with the man-advantage.
Otherwise, fun period to watch.
Goals: CBJ - None; TBL - Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman), 6:20; Yanni Gourde (Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman), 18:01
Shots: Lightning 10, Blue Jackets 6
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Lightning 54.2% (13-11), Blue Jackets 43.8% (11-13)
Scoring chances: Lightning 6, Blue Jackets 5
The rundown: This wasn't the best period Columbus has played this season, but the Jackets still managed to keep it a one-goal game for nearly 12 minutes after Stamkos put the Lightning ahead 3-2.
Gourde's goal with 1:59 left in the period felt like the beginning of end for Columbus, which went into the second intermission on the wrong side of a big momentum swing, but they didn't crumble when it looked like they might be overmatched.
That's a good sign for a young team still seeking its first signature win this season against a top team.
QUOTE: ""We certainly got the puck deep. I thought that was probably the fastest we've played through the game, got to some blue paint, got some sticks on pucks to keep our forecheck, so that was a good comeback to grab a point against a really good team, still with not everybody firing away on our team." - Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
Goals: CBJ - Markus Hannikainen (Sonny Milano, Seth Jones), 9:46; Brandon Dubinsky (Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand), 11:45; TBL - None
Shots: Blue Jackets 11, Lightning 5
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 51.4% (19-18), Lightning 48.6% (18-19)
Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 11, Lightning 7
Overall Corsi: Lightning 52% (51-47), Blue Jackets 48% (47-51)
Overall 5v5 Scoring chances: Lightning 28, Blue Jackets 22
The rundown: This was the brand of hockey people in Columbus are used to seeing when things are going well for the Blue Jackets.
They dropped pucks deep into the Lightning zone and got on the forecheck hard, forcing turnovers and eventually scoring chances. Before long, Hannikainen had beaten Vasilevskiy for his second goal in as many games - and his second of the season - to make it 4-3 with half the period left.
Dubinsky then tied it with 8:15 left, scoring off the rebound of Boone Jenner's shot from the right wing, and his 13-game goal-less streak came to an end in a big way.
The Jackets just couldn't move ahead from there, despite numerous chances.
QUOTE: "We stayed aggressive, we kept going after them, we were able to do what we do best, which is forecheck and get pucks deep, get on them, create turnovers and bury a couple. We've." - Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky, on the third-period effot.
Goals: CBJ - None; TBL - None
Shots: Lightning 4, Blue Jackets 2
Overall shots: Lightning 36, Blue Jackets 34
The rundown: These five minutes will be remembered mostly for the Blue Jackets being unable to score on a 4-on-3 power play.
Two minutes into the period, and about a minute into the power play, Panarin nearly ended it. Instead, his attempt off a wrist shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy and the game went to a shootout.
Goals: CBJ - None; TBL - Steven Stamkos, second round
Other attempts: CBJ - Oliver Bjorkstrand (wrist, saved), Panarin (wrist, saved), Milano (backhand, saved); TBL - Kucherov (backhand, miss), Point (backhand, saved)
First round: Nothing like starting off a shootout facing a guy who leads the NHL with 14 goals, and already hit the back of the net once in the same game, but that's what Bobrovsky did. He didn't make a save, but forced Kucherov to attempt a backhand that was shoveled wide of the right post. Oliver Bjorkstrand, who said last week his favorite shootout move is to just shoot the puck, shot the puck from the slot. Vasilevskiy stopped it with his blocker.
Second round: Lightning coach Jon Cooper sent Brayden Point out next, which was a smart decision considering he was 5-for-8 in his NHL career in shootout attempts, a blistering 62.5 percent success rate.This time, he skated in with speed, tried to tuck the puck underneath Bobrovsky with forehand-backhand move and was stonewalled by a great right pad save. Panarin was next up for the Blue Jackets. He came into it 6-for-8 in NHL shootout attempts, including 1-for-1 this season, but Vasilevskiy got him this time. Panarin deked the Lightning goalie to the ice, but wasn't able to get a good angle for the shot, which was stopped.
Third round: It must be nice to be Cooper, who's able to send a guy like Steven Stamkos out for the third round of a shootout. Stamkos had "only" succeeded on 21 percent of his career shootout attempts, but he'd also taken 37 of them before this one -- which beat Bobrovsky high to the stick side off a pinpoint wrist shot. Tortorella went to the other end of the shootout experience spectrum, sending rookie Sonny Milano over the boards for his first career attempt in the NHL. He tried a forehand-backhand move toward the right post, but Vasilevskiy read it perfectly and closed off the angle for the save and the win.
Score: Tampa Bay 1, Columbus 0
Game score: Tampa Bay 5, Columbus 4