BLUE JACKETS 3 | LIGHTNING 1
Sergei Bobrovsky appears to be finding his form, and that’s a very good sign for the Blue Jackets.
They have plenty of ground to make up in the Metropolitan Division standings, but the start of the climb is a winning streak - and that’s what they are in the process of putting together. Tonight’s 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference and the NHL’s best offense, gives the Blue Jackets three consecutive wins and once again, their goaltender was right in the middle of it.
After a franchise record 52-save performance in Sunrise two nights ago, Bobrovsky followed that up with 33 saves tonight at Amalie Arena, allowing only a late third-period goal to Ondrej Palat that spoiled the shutout bid. He was solid throughout and spectacular at times, making at least four highlight-reel stops to thwart grade-A chances for Tampa and keep the frustration mounting for the home team.
And this time, the Blue Jackets were able to clamp down in the third period and make a lead stand up.
Boone Jenner extended his goal-scoring streak to three games with a wicked shot at 2:37 of the opening period, cashing in on a turnover created by line mate Matt Calvert high in the offensive zone. The Lightning tried to exit through the middle of the ice but Calvert picked it off, and Jenner knocked a bouncing puck out of mid-air before ripping a high shot under the crossbar and behind Ben Bishop.
Columbus extended its lead to 2-0 on a power play goal from David Savard, another weird goal on Bishop. Savard crept down the right side and fired a shot on goal that Bishop looked to have sealed up, but it dribbled through his arm and into the net at 12:48.
A scoreless second period left the Blue Jackets with 20 minutes to protect a 2-0 lead, and Jack Skille bumped it to 3-0 right out of the penalty box at 4:51 of the third. He tried to pass the puck over to Michael Chaput on a 2-on-1, but the puck deflected off Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov and into the net.
From there, it was a solid defensive performance from the Blue Jackets forwards and defensemen, who did well to put out fires and remove any doubt from the picture.
“This is great for our confidence,” Savard said. “Our guys played hard, did a great job on the forecheck, and we played for 60 minutes.”
The second period was one of several top-notch Bobrovsky saves and also several frustrated Tampa Bay Lightning players, who pushed back and tried to get back in the game but to no avail. Bobrovsky did his finest work in the second period and, as stated above, his teammates helped him out with timely blocks and by doing “the little things” in their own zone.
vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET