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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a blowout win over Columbus

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts' 8-2 win over Columbus on Saturday

by Bryan Burns /

After scoring just two combined goals in their first two games, the Tampa Bay Lightning exploded offensively Saturday night versus Columbus, the Bolts putting up an eight spot in an 8-2 demolition of the Blue Jackets.

"Everybody's freaking out the other night because we only get one (goal) and we lose the game. Now you sit here and say, 'Oh wow, we could have used a few of these,'" Lightning head coach Jon Cooper quipped after the game.

The final score won't reflect it, but the game was tight with about a minute remaining in the second period, the Blue Jackets cutting a 3-0 Lightning lead to 3-2 and gaining momentum. But the Bolts scored a fourth goal before the break, got another courtesy of a power play coming out of the second intermission and netted four total in the third period to win going away.

Before the game, all anybody wanted to know was: What's wrong with the Lightning's offense?

The Bolts certainly put that narrative to bed Saturday night.

Video: CBJ@TBL: Stamkos, Killorn combine for one-time goal

Here are a few fun facts from Tampa Bay's scoring blitz.

The eight goals netted by the Lightning were tied for the second most they've put up in a game in franchise history (the record is nine by the way, that coming in a 9-0 win November 8, 2003 versus Pittsburgh).

Seven different players lit the lamp, including Brayden Point, who scored twice to give him three goals in his last two games and First Star honors Saturday night.

Six skaters - Tyler Johnson (2 assists), J.T. Miller (goal, 2 assists), Point (2 goals, assist), Yanni Gourde (goal, assist), Nikita Kucherov (goal, assist) and Mikhail Sergachev (2 assists) -- recorded multiple points in the win.

In all, 13 of the Bolts' 18 skaters earned at least one point Saturday night.

The amount of goals the Lightning scored and the number of Bolts who found their way on the scoresheet had to feel cathartic for a team that limped its way offensively to two goals through the first two games.

"We believe in this group," said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who got the offense started early when he followed up his own rebound to score a minute into the game. "I really liked the way we played against Vancouver. Their goalie made some great saves. We weren't really in front of him and a lot of the goals were scored around the crease today. That goes to show that we really took the message (to heart) and had a strong effort in front of the net."

In the third period with the Lightning up 4-2 and the game still somewhat in the balance, the Bolts tacked on four more goals to win going away. The four goals in the third were the most Tampa Bay has put up in a period since they scored five in the third period of a 7-3 win at the New York Rangers on March 30, 2018.

"Overall, I liked the way we put ourselves in a lot of positions to score tonight," Cooper said. "We were fortunate the pucks had eyes for us tonight."

Video: Point | Postgame TBL 8, CBJ 2

After the Lightning scored three times in the opening period to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, Columbus rallied in the second, Josh Anderson breaking through for the Blue Jackets at 8:14 of the middle frame and Oliver Bjorkstrand cutting the Lightning lead to one at 15:51 of the second.

Columbus outplayed the Lightning in the second period. The Blue Jackets owned a 16-5 advantage in shots. At times, it seemed as if the Lightning were just trying to hang on and get to the locker room with their lead still intact.

A fortuitous bounce, however, provided Tampa Bay with a fourth goal and re-established a two-goal lead right before the break. That sudden shift in momentum was all the Lightning needed to explode in the third period and cruise to victory.

The goal came with just :45 seconds to go in the second period. Yanni Gourde popped a puck free along the boards behind the Columbus goal and sent the puck around the glass. The puck hit a stanchion though and rolled unexpectedly through the blue paint in front of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Ryan Murray tried to clear the puck from danger, but Brayden Point was able to block the clear and shoot past an unaware Bobrovsky in one motion for the critical goal that would prove to be the turning point in the game.

"The big one for us was Pointer's goal in the last minute or whatever it was," Cooper said. "…You just look at the swing, it's 3-2 with a minute left in the second, we score, they take a penalty, power play scores and that was basically the game for us."

Had the Lightning gone into the second intermission with just the one-goal lead, chances are Saturday's game has a different outcome. Point's last-minute marker proved to be the one the Blue Jackets couldn't recover from.

Video: CBJ@TBL: Gourde bangs in the loose puck for a PPG

Aside from the lack of goals, the other storyline surrounding the Lightning after two games was the inability of their power play to do much of anything.

Following a 4-1 loss to Vancouver on Thursday in which the power play went 0-for-5, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said it was the worst performance he'd seen from a Tampa Bay power play in a long time.

As much as Saturday's result should get some of the Bolts players going, the fact the Lightning power play scored four times on seven different power-play opportunities could be the kickstart that unit needs to get back to the top of the NHL where it was a season ago.

After going without a goal on its first power-play opportunity Saturday night, it's ninth-consecutive power-play chance without a goal to start 2018-19, the power play finally broke through late in the first period when Yanni Gourde cleaned up the rebound on Mikhail Sergachev's shot from the blue line to put the Lightning up 3-0.

"I think our power play was much better (against Columbus)," Gourde said. "We directed pucks at the net and we created rebounds and that's how we scored goals. That's what we have to do more of."

The Lightning did more of that later in the game. Tampa Bay was awarded a power play at the end of the second period, the full two minutes carrying over into the third, and Point scored his second goal of the night 1:40 into the man-advantage for a 5-2 Lightning lead.

Alex Killorn netted his first marker of the season on a power play at 7:12 of the third after a beauty of a feed from Steven Stamkos set him up for an open one-timer. J.T. Miller pushed home a rebound at the edge of the blue paint on a late-game power play to net the Bolts' eighth goal and fourth power-play goal with 0.2 seconds remaining.

The four power-play goals by Tampa Bay were tied for the second most they've scored in a game in franchise history (most: 5 in a 6-1 win at Buffalo on March 19, 1995).

In one game, the Lightning went from dead last in the NHL on the power play to tied for eighth in the league at 26.7 percent.

All it needed was that one breakthrough, but once it came, the Bolts' power play couldn't be stopped Saturday night.

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