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Burns: 3 Things from a blow out loss to Columbus

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 5-1 loss to the Blue Jackets

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Lightning have played Columbus twice this season, and both performances are ones the Bolts would just as soon erase from their memory bank.

There's no way around it, the Bolts weren't that good in Columbus, losing 5-1 on Tuesday night. 

Just like four nights earlier, Tampa Bay fell behind 3-0 to the Blue Jackets. Then they went down 4-0 early in the third while pushing to get back into the game. About 10 minutes later, the score ballooned to 5-0 after Sam Gagner threw an innocuous-looking puck at the net after wrapping around the goal, a shot that bounced off Bolts goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped into the net.

It was that kind of night for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bolts have now dropped three in a row for the second time this season.

Tuesday's result was hard to swallow for Lightning fans, especially coming off a season where the Bolts swept all three games from the Blue Jackets and outscored them 11-3.

Why has Columbus suddenly become near-impossible for the Lightning to solve?

We'll attempt to break down the Blue Jackets' recent mastery over the Bolts in our 3 Things recap from getting crushed in Columbus.

1. POOR STARTS CONTINUE

It goes without saying, but falling behind 3-0 is never a good way to find success in the National Hockey League.

The Lightning had some fight when going down by three on November 25 against Columbus, rallying to tie the game 3-3 before the Blue Jackets scored back-to-back goals in the third period to secure the win.

But on Tuesday, once they trailed 3-0, the Lightning simply ran out of answers.

Like they did in their first meeting, the Blue Jackets jumped on the Lightning from the opening puck drop and didn't let the Bolts mount any kind of serious threat on Sergei Bobrovsky's goal. Columbus, meanwhile, was buzzing around the Bolts' net and finally broke through a little more than five minutes into the game when William Karlsson received the puck in the right circle on a 3-on-1 and shot far post past Vasilevskiy.

Columbus led 1-0 after the first period.

Tampa Bay has never lost this season and is 8-0-0 when leading after the first period

The Lightning are just 3-8-1 when trailing after 20 minutes, including Tuesday's loss in Columbus.

Moral of the story: better starts lead to better results.

2. SUFFOCATING FORECHECK
Columbus generates its offense from an unrelenting forecheck, which was on full display against the Lightning.

Tampa Bay had trouble making clean exits out of its own end because anytime a Bolt received the puck, a Blue Jacket was right on top of him to pressure and force a mistake. As a result, the Lightning rushed their passes, and many of them were off target, the puck turning back over to Columbus, which kept the pressure on Vasilevskiy through much of the first and second periods.

The Lightning struggled to get into their attack because of how disruptive Columbus' forecheck was.

Through the first 10 minutes of the opening period, the Lightning didn't have a shot on goal.

The start of the second period was more of the same, the Bolts going the first five minutes of the middle period without a shot because they couldn't string together passes and they couldn't hold possession against the Columbus forecheck.

After 40 minutes of play, the Blue Jackets owned a 27-13 shots advantage. They were outhitting the Bolts 26-10.

They also were up 3-0.

Less than two minutes into the third period, Columbus effectively ended any Lightning comeback hopes with an early goal to take a 4-0 lead. At that point, they could sit back and absorb any Lightning attacks and protect their lead.

3. GOALIE INTERFERENCE CALL AGAIN HAUNTS BOLTS

Stop me if you've heard this before: The Lightning were on the wrong end of a goaltender interference call on Tuesday.

Down 2-0 and searching for a way to generate scoring chances and get back in the game, the Bolts thought they'd gotten on the board when Jason Garrison redirected a puck from the left circle past Bobrovsky following a nifty passing sequence.

Immediately, however, the referee waved the goal off on the ice, claiming goalie interference on Ondrej Palat.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper challenged the call, questioning whether it was Palat who interfered with Bobrovsky or Columbus' Jack Johnson.

Johnson appeared to touch skates with Bobrovsky while battling in the crease with Palat for position. Bobrovsky was bumped out of position as a result, and Garrison benefitted from an open net.

Replay seemed to support the view that Johnson was responsible for contacting Bobrovsky.

Officials in Toronto didn't see it that way however, and the call on the ice was upheld.

Certainly, the Lightning were outplayed by Columbus on Tuesday, and there's a good chance Garrison's goal would have made little difference in the final result.

But for a Bolts team searching for a foothold in the game, to have one and then see it immediately ripped away, the demoralizing effect was too much to overcome. 

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