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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a loss to Columbus

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns takes an inside look at Tampa Bay's 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets on Friday night.

by Bryan Burns /

Perhaps it was too much turkey from the previous day's Thanksgiving festivities.

Or maybe they were overlooking their opponent, a team they swept last season and had won four in a row over.

Whatever the reason, the Lightning came out flat against Columbus on Friday night and never recovered in a 5-3 loss.

Chalk it up to just one of those games.

The Lightning look to rebound when they hit the road yet again, this time for a three-game trip starting Sunday with a day game in Boston.

But for now, we'll recap 3 Things from Friday's loss to the Blue Jackets before burying the game film from this one and never speaking of it again.

Video: Bishop on Bolts' slow start in loss to CBJ


Despite climbing back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game 3-3 early in the third period, Tampa Bay didn't deserve to win Friday's game according to head coach Jon Cooper.

That's because the Bolts were outworked for the entire game in the eyes of their coach.

"We were just rotten, that's it from start to finish," Cooper said. "I don't even know how else to put it. We play 82 games, and I think we just chalk that one up to a stinker. We got taught a lesson from a team who worked way harder than us. We wanted to skill the game and not get in anybody's way, and that's what happens. I know it was 3-3, but the right team won the hockey game. I give our guys credit. They fought back, but we just made way too many mistakes."

Defensive coverage was poor against Columbus. The Lightning turned the puck over too many times deep in their own end. The Bolts failed to create good scoring opportunities. They passed up too many shots looking for better ones that never materialized. They had zero net-front presence while Columbus camped out in front of the crease. The Bolts compete level for pucks wasn't what it needed to be.

Friday's game was just a litany of errors for the Lightning.

Fortunately, they only have to dwell on it for 36 hours or so before taking on Boston Sunday afternoon.

"We feel good about ourselves and then we forget how we got there and then you take a step back," Cooper said. "But, we haven't had too many of these, maybe this one and the Ranger one, so in 20-plus games, we've had two stinkers and unfortunately this is what happens. But we've got a good group. We've won a few more here than we've lost, and that's for a reason. We've just got to get back to work, take what happened today, take it to heart."

Video: CBJ@TBL: Kucherov finishes Johnson's wraparound dish


Tampa Bay fell behind 2-0 before nine minutes had expired in the first period, forcing the Lightning to play catch up for pretty much the entire game.

When Nikita Kucherov broke through at 8:33 of the second period with his team-leading 11th goal of the season, momentum, it seemed, was shifting toward the Bolts.

The good feelings lasted all of 29 seconds for the Lightning.

Columbus forced a turnover behind the Bolts' goal on the following shift, and a scramble in front of Ben Bishop's net resulted in Josh Anderson scoring his sixth goal of the season to put the Blue Jackets back ahead by two scores.

"It's tough to kill that momentum when we gain it," Lightning forward Ondrej Palat said. "Those games happen, but we've got to be better. The effort's got to be way better."

A similar scenario played out in the third period. After Jason Garrison netted his first goal of the season late in the second period and Palat tied the game at 3:37 of the third, Columbus came right back to regain the lead less than a minute later, Alexander Wennberg winning a battle in the corner and centering in front for a wide-open Brandon Saad to net the game-winner.

Any time the Lightning had a chance pull ahead, Columbus was ready to retake control of the game.

"We battled our way back to a tie in the third," Bishop said. "I've got to come up with a big save there. I feel like I let the guys down, but you've got to put it past you and get ready for the next one."

Jason Garrison said the failures against the Blue Jackets were a collective team effort, not a product of shaky goaltending.

"Our goalies have been our best players to start the season, so it's definitely not even close to being on (Bishop)," he said. "We got to play better in front of them."

Video: CBJ@TBL: Palat tips Kucherov's feed past Bobrovsky


Tampa Bay thought it had put to rest the prevailing theme from the first 15 or so games of the season of not being ready to start the game and having to play from behind nearly every night.

The Lightning had held a lead after the first period in five of their previous six games entering the Columbus contest.

The Blue Jackets jumped on the Lightning from the opening puck drop, however, hemming the Bolts in their own zone for pretty much the entire first three to four minutes of the game, culminating in Wennberg's opening goal at 3:46.

Columbus continued to pressure the Lightning and struck again nearly five minutes later when Nick Foligno netted his eighth goal of the year for a 2-0 Blue Jackets lead they would take into the first intermission.

"We definitely didn't have the start we wanted," Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison said. "It's hard when you're down two in the first period right off the bat. It's tough to come back in this league, but, yeah, we just didn't have the start we wanted."

The Lightning didn't register their first shot until midway through the first period and only had four for the entire period.

Columbus had the Lightning on their back skate from the beginning. The Bolts never seemed to get a foot hold into the game until the second period.

By then, the damage had been done.

And the energy the Bolts expended to get back in the game wasn't there when they needed it late in the third.

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