BLUE JACKETS 3 | LIGHTNING 2
Three games in four nights? It took a third period rally and some special teams magic, but the Blue Jackets just won all three.
And on top of that, they set a new season-high win streak with their fourth straight tonight - but it did not come easily against a Tampa Bay club that had won seven of its last eight road games, and most recently, embarrassed the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia over the weekend.
FINAL:BLUE JACKETS 3 | LIGHTNING 2
Columbus, on the outside looking in at the Metropolitan Division playoff picture, knew it had to get out to a quick start and get engaged early against a team that likes to push the pace and trade chances. The Blue Jackets were flying of the gate, firing nine shots on goal in the first 10-plus minutes of the game but they could not solve Anders Lindback, who gave the Lightning a chance to steal one tonight at Nationwide Arena
Their frantic start didn't bear any fruit, and in the second period, the Lightning scored two quick goals to pull ahead 2-1 as the Blue Jackets came up empty on their first four power play chances. There was some frustration, no doubt, but Nathan Horton
said post-game that they wanted to come out in the third period and and change the tone.
On their first real opportunity of the third period - their fifth power play of the game - the Blue Jackets cashed in.
Horton, from the left wing atop the face-off circle, unleashed a wicked wrist shot that Lindback never saw thanks to a 6-foot-4 screen set by Artem Anisimov
. They were back in it, but in the waning moments of regulation in a 2-2 tie, had to kill a penalty and they got a huge save from Sergei Bobrovsky
on Ondrej Palat that gave them a big lift.
With 2:38 to play and a chance to make good on one last power play chance, the Blue Jackets did it again. Birthday boy Jack Johnson
, who had two assists in the game, snapped a wrister through traffic that Mark Letestu
re-directed from the side of the net for the game-winning goal, his fourth tally in the last five games.
There were key junctures in the third period, but Bobrovsky - who didn't have to make many highlight-reel saves tonight - came up with a huge stop in crunch time.
Tampa made a quick play on the man advantage with Palat alone in the high slot, and his re-direct on goal surprised Bobrovsky but was kicked out off Bobrovsky's left pad. It was the type of save they needed, one that resulted in a strong shift at the other end and a power play that helped win the game.
1. JAMES WISNIEWSKI (CBJ)
When the Jackets' power play is humming, Wisniewski is driving the bus. He played a solid game, setting up the game-winner and playing some hard minutes alongside Ryan Murray.
2. NATHAN HORTON (CBJ)
His second goal as a Blue Jacket was, not surprisingly, a big goal...much like his first one was (a game-winner in Phoenix). Horton's laser through traffic tied things up early in the third period and started the rally for Columbus.
3. RYAN JOHANSEN (CBJ)
Solid game from Johansen tonight, giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead in the second period with a wicked slapper from the center point. His line with Foligno and Umberger gave Tampa fits all night long, and in winning 11-of-16 face-offs (69 percent), gave that unit more time with the puck in the offensive zone.
VS. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.