Both goaltenders were outstanding in this afternoon’s game, and one of them got a little more help than the other.
Ben Bishop has been one of the top goaltenders in the NHL all season long and today’s performance was evidence of that; he was the best player on the ice, making 37 saves in a 4-0 win for the Lightning at Nationwide Arena.
“You have to try to create havoc around his net, and I don’t think we got there enough,” captain Nick Foligno said. “You have to make it hard on him, but we didn’t do that enough.”
Aside from Bishop, the Blue Jackets’ other problem this afternoon was their third period; it was a 1-0 game after 40 minutes with plenty of chances for them to break through, but they allowed two shorthanded goals in less than four minutes to effectively put the game away.
“We’re right there with 11 minutes left in the third period,” coach John Tortorella said. “That’s frustrating. It needs to be a lesson learned that we need to stay with it, and hopefully we can learn from it.”
The opening goal and eventual game-deciding goal was scored 5:29 into the second period by Steven Stamkos, who continues to play well as the Lightning make their postseason push. He got loose in the right circle and fired a quick shot by Sergei Bobrovsky, who had lost his stick in the process and could not recover in time.
And though the game started poorly for the Blue Jackets (they did not register their first shot on goal until beyond the seven-minute mark), they were very much alive with 20 minutes to play, but the game unraveled in the third period.
A turnover in front of the Blue Jackets’ net resulted in a goal by Vladislav Namestnikov at 8:45 of the third period, and with the way Bishop was playing, the 2-0 goal was more than enough for the Lightning.
“It starts with the turnover, and basically, we blow up,” Tortorella said.
Stamkos scored his second goal of the afternoon on a shorthanded rush with Ondrej Palat, who set his captain up artfully. Stamkos elected not to shoot and instead made a quick deke to the backhand before depositing the puck into an open net, making to 3-0 for Tampa only 2:09 after the Namestnikov goal.
If you needed additional proof that this just wasn’t the Blue Jackets’ day, look no further than the fourth goal.
Another shorthanded break between Stamkos and Palat featured the latter on the business end of a terrific Stamkos pass, capping the scoring at 14:39 of the third period.
“There were a lot of missed offensive opportunities,” Tortorella said. “We created enough offense, (but) we just need to stay with it. It’s another lesson we have work through, just staying within ourselves and keep playing.”