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Burns: 3 Things from getting swept by Columbus

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Friday was supposed to be a night for celebration at AMALIE Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning honoring Martin St. Louis with a pre-game, number-retiring ceremony in front of his former head coach John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets were the team elated at the final horn.

The Lightning, buoyed by the energy from St. Louis' ceremony, bolted out to a fantastic start and held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes

Methodically, however, Columbus worked their way back into the game, leveling the score near the end of the second period and taking its first lead on the back of its league-best power play in the third.

Columbus smothered a worn-out Lightning team down the stretch in a 3-1 win for the Blue Jackets.

The Lightning were swept in a three-game regular season series by Columbus for the first time, the Blue Jackets having won 5-3 (Nov. 25) and 5-1 (Nov. 29) over the Bolts earlier this season.

It's back to the drawing board for a Tampa Bay team that has lost five of its last six games. We'll break down all of Friday night's action in 3 Things from getting swept by Columbus.

Video: CBJ@TBL: St. Louis honored in banner raising ceremony

1. THE FIRST

On Friday, Martin St. Louis became the first Tampa Bay Lightning player ever to have his number retired.

St. Louis' 26 now hangs from the rafters forever at AMALIE Arena.

The accolade is, obviously, well deserved.

St. Louis finished his 13-season career with the Lightning holding franchise records for points (953), assists (588), game-winning goals (64), shorthanded goals (28) and consecutive games played (499), among others.

He helped the Lightning win the organization's only Stanley Cup to date, and his Stanley Cup Final Game 6 double overtime game-winner in Calgary remains arguably the most important goal in franchise history.

But beyond the scoring, St. Louis was a heart and soul player, a competitor who wore his emotions on his sleeve and squeezed every inch of ability out of his diminutive 5-foot-8 frame.

And he was beloved by his teammates and coaches alike.

These statements from a touching, emotional pre-game ceremony show just how much.

Columbus head coach John Tortorella: "I just have so much respect for how he did it. So unbelievable."

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman: "I will remember him as one of the most exciting players to play the game."

Bolts owner Jeff Vinik: "This is one of the most important days in the history of this franchise."

And from his friend and former teammate Steven Stamkos: "He was, he is and he always will be the heart and soul of this organization."

After the game, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said he was "honored to be at ice level to witness" the festivities.

I think everyone in the building had the exact same feeling.

 Video: Cooper PC: Postgame CBJ 3 - TBL 1

2. RUNNING OUT OF GAS

The Lightning outshot Columbus 19-6 in the first period and had a number of good scoring chances against Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, making his first start of the season after expected starter Sergei Bobrovsky was a late scratch.

Jonathan Drouin finally broke through with 3:42 left in the opening period, receiving a beauty of a pass through traffic from Valtteri Filppula on the back post and slamming the puck home for his 13th goal of the season.

Since December 1, Drouin has recorded 10 goals and 11 assists in 19 games, averaging 1.11 goals per game, tied for the fifth best PPG average in the NHL over that period.

The Bolts couldn't capitalize further on Drouin's torrid play and the momentum from the opening goal, however. In the second and third periods, the Lightning registered just 13 shots on goal combined.

Columbus, meanwhile, found its legs as the game wore on. The Blue Jackets sent 16 shots at Andrei Vasilevskiy in the second period and nine more in the third.

"It's too bad that we only had the 1-0 lead (after the first period)," Cooper said. "I thought we deserved a little bit better fate. I thought we played well. It was just tough for our guys to sustain it. They turned up their game a notch. We tried, it was just a little tougher for us to get the inside after a while, and we weren't getting our shots through."

The Lightning were playing the second half of a back-to-back set on Friday, the second of three back-to-back sets in 11 days for the Bolts. Columbus had two days off to prepare for the Lightning.

Knowing that, Friday's game played out about like you'd expect.

 Video: Drouin on offensive effort in 3-1 loss

3. SPECIAL TEAMS THE KEY

Tampa Bay and Columbus entered the contest as the two best power-play teams in the league, the Blue Jackets ranked first at 25.8 percent and the Bolts second at 24.1 percent.

Columbus was able to connect on one of its four power plays, Foligno rebounding Zach Werenski's saved shot to put the Blue Jackets ahead for good at 4:29 of the third period.

"It came down to special teams," Cooper said. "Our special teams, especially on the power play, has been pretty good all year, and we needed the big kill at the end and we didn't get it. Ultimately, that's what we needed because, really, if (they) don't get the power-play goal, it's still tied. We needed to kill it off, and we didn't."

The Lightning weren't able to take advantage of three power plays, including a late opportunity when Jack Johnson was whistled for slashing at 16:56 of the third.

"We couldn't get the power-play goal when we needed it at the end," Cooper lamented.

Indeed, it was a night of missed opportunities for the Lightning, who had a great chance to come away with at least one point against the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets but, once again, couldn't sustain their play for a full 60 minutes.

They'll try to regroup when they hit the road for six games, starting out west in California against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. 

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