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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

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WATCH: Sergei Bobrovsky's glove save on JT Brown, also the play that caused him to leave the game due to injury.

WATCH: Second period highlights from Nationwide Arena...

UMBY AT THE BREAK: RJ Umberger stopped by to talk with Bob & Jody on the CBJ Radio Network between periods...hear his comments here --> UMBY INTERMISSION

Entering tonight's game, the Blue Jackets had put up single digit shot totals in 22 of their previous 23 periods. Tonight? Not so much; plenty of jump and "on their toes" play in the second period from Columbus, and a 1-0 lead for the home side on a beautiful goal by Nick Foligno. They could have had a couple more goals in the second period, too, if not for strong play from Ben Bishop in goal. Anisimov, Atkinson, Calvert...all with grade-A chances but couldn't cash in. The Blue Jackets have played a solid game in front of Bobrovsky to this point, and they will need more of it in the third period with a Lightning club that's undoubtedly going to put forth a strong push.

WATCH: How about the Foligno goal from all angles? We thought so.

WATCH: This highlight is your friend. Your very beautiful friend. What a goal to make it 1-0 Columbus!

WHAT. A. FINISH. Nick Foligno's sick between-the-legs finish gives the Jackets a 1-0 lead --> FOLIGNO GOAL

First period highlights from Jackets-Lightning...

FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: That first period was an old-fashioned chess match, one might say, and kind of predictable given these two teams haven't played each other since the 2011-12 season (both of those were one-goal decisions). Shots are 10-4 in favor of the Lightning, but there were not many quality chances to be had in the opening 20 minutes. Both clubs played it close to the vest, didn't make many mistakes in the neutral zone and aside from an early penalty to Corey Tropp, it was a relatively benign period. If you're the Blue Jackets, the shots on goal total is obviously a concern and something you want to get turned around quickly. They simply have not shot the puck enough in the past few weeks and it's one reason why they've not been able to consistently score goals. 

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards addresses the media prior to tonight's game against the Lightning.

WATCH: Brandon Dubinsky talks about his return to the lineup tonight and getting the Blue Jackets back in the win column.

WATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout talks about the Lightning's young players and how to slow down a fast, transition team.

UPDATE (11:50 AM): According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, Ben Bishop gets the start in goal for the Lightning tonight. The big 6-foot-7 netminder has been excellent so far for Tampa and has himself on the fringe of the USA Olympic conversation. On a related note, the Lightning might have the tallest goaltending tandem ever; Bishop is 6-foot-7 and backup Anders Lindback stands at 6-foot-6. Yikes. 

UPDATE (11:05 AM):
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards just met with the media. Here's a brief summary...

- Richards said Dubinsky is a "big piece, an impact player for us" and he's looking forward to having him back in the lineup at an ideal time tonight.

- Richards on Johansen: "There's still a long way to go in terms of his potential, but he's taken some big steps this season. He wants the puck in the offensive zone, in the neutral zone."

- Richards on Tampa Bay: "No. 26 is a dangerous might think their could suffer without (Stamkos) but they haven't. They try to stretch you out vertically in the neutral zone and they come at you with speed on the attack."

- On tonight's game: "Every game is critical. Sometimes you think you have lots of time...but we should know, based on last year, that this game is just as important as any other game. Tonight's game is worth two points against an Eastern Conference opponent."

UPDATE (10:55 AM):
Looks like David Savard and Michael Chaput will be healthy scratches tonight against Tampa Bay. 

UPDATE (10:20 AM):
Here are today's Blue Jackets lines and defense pairs...

Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Calvert - Dubinsky - Comeau
Jenner - Anisimov - Atkinson
Skille - Letestu - Tropp

Defense pairs rotating in/out, with the possibility they remain the same as Saturday night vs. Boston.

UPDATE (10:15 AM):
The Blue Jackets are on the ice for the morning skate and, as expected, Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal tonight against Tampa Bay. Expect to see 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop between the pipes for the Lightning, who has been terrific so far this season.

The Blue Jackets are slated to take their morning skate at 10 a.m. here at Nationwide Arena. As always, we'll have live updates from the skate here at Game Day Central, and also, pre-game interviews, photos, audio and more once we meet with the players and coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!

The Blue Jackets got some good news on the injury front today, as Brandon Dubinsky was activated off injured reserve after missing six games due to an injured foot. He will most certainly be back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that has certainly been through its share of injury problems this season.

Another game with seven healthy defensemen means Todd Richards has a decision to make on the back end. David Savard has been a healthy scratch the past two games on defense, with the three defense pairs (Murray-Wisniewski, Tyutin-Johnson, Nikitin Prout) remaining intact.

Between the pipes, Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to return as the starter after Curtis McElhinney made 33 saves in a 3-1 loss to Boston on Saturday night.

When you boil this one down, the Blue Jackets - who need to play better at home - are going up against a Lightning club that has lost four straight on the road.

Many thought Tampa Bay was up a creek when Steven Stamkos went down with a broken leg three weeks ago, but the Lightning have played well in his absence and currently hold the NHL's 10th-best offense, averaging 2.8 goals per game. Martin St. Louis, the ageless wonder, is a big part of that offensive success and is close to a point-per-game player at 38 years old. His 24 points in 26 games lead the Lightning and the team seems to go as its captain does.

And before arriving in Columbus, the Lightning wrapped up a three-game homestand with a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh, a game they felt probably could have gone either way but the offensive production hit a snag. In this first of three meetings this season against the Blue Jackets, the Lightning aren't looking to make many changes from their previous outing - they just want to execute a little better and see the red light come on a couple times.

The Blue Jackets haven't seen the Lightning since the 2011-12 season and this is a much different team than the one they faced two years ago. Tampa Bay plays a different style of game under head coach Jon Cooper, who took over for former coach Guy Boucher late last season; the Lightning love to activate the defense and pressure the opponent all over the ice, and with several young skilled forwards, they can play an attack-style of game and also get back in the play.

Richards said he's not the least bit surprised that the Lightning haven't fallen off in the wake of Stamkos' injury, and it's mainly because of the presence of St. Louis - one of the most respected players in the game. 


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