Columbus' third crack at the NHL's best team ended similarly as the first two -- with a loss. The Blue Jackets (33-22-3) dropped a 5-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-11-4) at Nationwide Arena on Monday night.
Game in a Paragraph
The Blue Jackets came out flying but found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-0 score after one period of play thanks to a pair of breakaway goals by Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning added a 5-on-3 goal late in the second and extended the lead to 5-0 early in the third, completing a career- and franchise-high-tying five-point night for Kucherov. Lukas Sedlak scored with 1:45 to go to set the final margin.
Video: CBJ Recap: Sedlak scores lone goal in 5-1 loss
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "I'm frustrated for the team, but it is what it is. That's what happens sometimes. Our first period was probably our best period of hockey we've played all year long."
Columbus put 20 shots on goal in the first period, its most in a period all season, but it still was down 2-0 thanks to a pair of goals from Kucherov.
The first at 11:18 came after Columbus had a 4-on-2 rush going one direction. Tampa got the puck and quickly went the other way, with Yanni Gourde slipping the NHL's leading point scorer behind the defense and Kucherov's perfect forehand-to-backhand finish leaving Joonas Korpisalo with no chance.
Kucherov then made it 2-0 at 14:24 as he again got in behind the defense off a turnover, then cut across the face of goal and slipped the puck through the legs of Korpisalo.
In the meantime, Columbus had some golden chances among its 19 shots, including a misplay by goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy that led to Oliver Bjorkstrand sending the puck into the crease where the Tampa netminder had to kick it out in a panic with the left leg. Hometown hero Kole Sherwood also had a great chance alone in the slot between the Kucherov goals, but Vasilevskiy was up to the challenge.
In the second, the Jackets' best chance might have been when Eric Robinson drilled the post from the left circle, but the score stayed 2-0 until the final minute. Tampa Bay earned a two-man advantage with 33.0 seconds left in the period and it was 3-0 with 28.1 left, as the Bolts won the draw and Kucherov teed up Steven Stamkos for a one-timer through Korpisalo from the left dot.
Brayden Point then put the nail in the coffin with two goals just 46 seconds into the third, both assisted by Kucherov. He scored on the power play 12 seconds in and then tallied from the left dot after a pass Korpisalo never saw to make it 5-0.
Columbus had a four-minute power play in the second half of the final period after Kucherov went off for high-sticking, but the Blue Jackets cuold not score.
The shutout came off the board, though, with 1:45 to go when Riley Nash fed Sedlak alone in front and he snuck the Jackets' 39th shot of the night under Vasilevskiy.
By the Numbers
Kucherov now has 18 points (7-11-18) in the last five games. … Playing in his debut at home, New Albany native Kole Sherwood led the team again in hits with six. ... It was just the second time in seven games Columbus hasn't scored first. … Columbus went 0-3 on the power play, its fourth straight game without a man-up goal, and gave up two goals to the Bolts' top-ranked power play. Columbus had allowed just two power-play goals in the first 18 games of 2019. … The game began the 10th of 16 back-to-backs for the Blue Jackets this year. … Korpisalo made his first start since Feb. 2.
Boone Jenner returned from missing a game with a lower-body injury and was inserted into the lineup for Anthony Duclair. ... Ryan Murray played just 3:24 before leaving with an upper-body injury and will not travel with the team on the upcoming road trip.
The Blue Jackets play the second half of a back-to-back Tuesday night with a 7:30 game at Montreal.