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Burns: 3 Things we learned from sweeping Columbus

Bryan Burns on Barre-Boulet's first career goal, the first line leading the way and performance matching results

by Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL /

Recap: TBL 4, CBJ 3 - F/OT

Hedman lifts Lightning past Blue Jackets in overtime

Victor Hedman scored in overtime and Brayden Point had three primary assists in the Lightning's 4-3 victory against the Blue Jackets

  • 04:58 •

The Tampa Bay Lightning are inching closer and closer to clinching a spot in the playoffs for the fourth-consecutive season, seventh time in the last eight seasons and 13th time overall in franchise history.

The Lightning whittled their magic number down to two following a come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at AMALIE Arena Sunday night to close out a season-long, six-game homestand. The Bolts could clinch a playoff berth as early as Monday should the Nashville Predators lose in regulation at home to the Florida Panthers.

Of course, if that contest doesn't end in Tampa Bay's favor, the Lightning still have eight more chances down the stretch of the regular season to collect just one more win and earn their spot in the postseason.

Tampa Bay won a series for the first time since March 20 after sweeping the two-game set from the Blue Jackets. The Lightning entered Sunday's game having split each of their previous seven two-game series.

The Bolts' resiliency allowed them to prevail and complete the sweep. Twice the Lightning fell behind, initially late in the first period after giving up two goals in a 1:13 span to enter the first intermission down 2-1, and then 55 seconds into the third period when Eric Robinson scored the second of his two goals to put Columbus in front 3-2.

The Lightning didn't deviate from their game plan and were able to get their deserved result in overtime after Victor Hedman scored 10 seconds into the second frame, tied for the second-fastest overtime goal by a defenseman in NHL history and second fastest by any skater in Lightning history.

Here's how the Bolts rallied.

Video: CBJ@TBL: Barre-Boulet scores PPG for first NHL goal

Lightning rookie Alex Barre-Boulet had multiple chances to register his first career NHL goal or assist through his first seven contests entering Sunday's tilt against Columbus.

Heck, earlier in the homestand he did get his first point after earning the second assist on a goal, but it was taken off the board by the NHL off-ice officials following the game and his search continued.

Sunday looked like it might be another one of those nights for Barre-Boulet. On an early first period power play, he found Ondrej Palat wide open on the back post with Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo out of his net, but Palat couldn't quite turn on the shot in time and sent it back through the blue paint inches wide of the far post.

Later, it was Barre-Boulet's time for an open shot on the back post. He took an extra touch, however, and by the timehe fired off a shot, Korpisalo recovered in time to make the denial.

But his time finally arrived early in the third period.

And it was as big a moment for his team as it was for him.

After falling behind 3-2 just 55 seconds into the third, the Lightning were in danger of giving away a game they had no business losing. The shots, scoring chances, zone time and possession all favored the Lightning, but the Blue Jackets were ahead on the scoreboard. The Bolts got their third power-play opportunity two minutes into the third on Mikhail Grigorenko's holding call.

They took advantage.

And Barre-Boulet broke through.

The Bolts moved the puck around quickly through the zone until Ondrej Palat got the puck on his stick in the right circle. He threaded a pass across the ice for Barre-Boulet, who one-timed a difficult shot into the net from the left circle to level the score 3-3.

"I didn't think about points or goals too much since I got here," Barre-Boulet said. "There's so many great players here that can contribute offensively that I didn't put pressure on myself to do it. I just wanted to play good in my zone, play simple and hard. I think if you play good and you play hard, good things are going to happen. I missed a couple before, but it was good to have it tonight. It's out of the way now, so I'm not going to think about it anymore."

Victor Hedman was impressed by the skill level on Barre-Boulet's first NHL goal.

"Great pass by Pally, and those off side one-timers are pretty hard. But he buried it top shelf," Hedman said. "Pretty cool first NHL goal. But there's plenty more to come for that guy. He's just finding his stride in the NHL. He's been a big, big part of our team, and we know how good he's been in Syracuse. Just so happy for him."

Barre-Boulet's first NHL goal and point came eight games into his NHL career.

Hopefully, getting on the scoresheet will open the floodgates for a player who's had plenty of chances to score and set up numerous good scoring opportunities before today but was finally rewarded.

"It's not like he hasn't been getting his chances, it was just a matter of time," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Really, I thought he helped the power play get some momentum and clearly a big goal for us. We needed every one of them tonight. But he's been putting himself in the right spots, and it was only a matter of time for him."

Video: CBJ@TBL: Point, Palat combine for opening goal in 1st

The Lightning scored four or more goals for just the second time in the last 17 games in Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over Columbus.

And it was mainly because the top line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and the aforementioned Alex Barre-Boulet couldn't be stopped.

Palat scored the game's opening goal - the seventh time he's scored the first goal in a game this season, most on the Lightning - and assisted on two others to extend his point streak to five games, matching a season high.

Point registered three assists, including on Victor Hedman's overtime game-winner, to match his season high for assists and scoring in a game.

And Barre-Boulet's power-play goal couldn't have come at a more needed time for the Lightning.

"They're world-class players Pointer and Pally," Hedman said. "Pally showed it in the playoffs. He was one of the main reasons we went that far, and he's carried that over to the regular season. Pointer is just who he is, buzzing around out there and making some great plays. BB has fit in well. He reads the game very well and knows where to be on the ice and the other guys like to play with him. It's a good match and they made some unreal plays today."

Jon Cooper said Point is starting to hit his stride again with the playoffs approaching.

"It's been coming for him," Cooper said. "With every game here this last couple of weeks, he's getting better and better and better. But I also think part of that is because he's got some chemistry with BB. Pally's been a mainstay on this line but now those three are kind of working really well together, and I think it's really helped Pointer's game."

Barre-Boulet has been given top line minutes and time on the first power-play unit since being recalled from Syracuse and has proven himself worthy of such lofty roles.

"He sees the game at a high level and has the ability to play with good players," Cooper said. "That was our thought anyway, and he's proven us right."

The trio drove the bus in the Lightning's win over Columbus. They were the best line on the ice and were unstoppable at times.

Video: Jon Cooper | Postgame vs Blue Jackets

The Lightning were the better team throughout Sunday's contest.

The scoreboard didn't always reflect it, however.

And that could have led to the Bolts' demise.

Instead, they stuck with their process, didn't deviate from their structure despite the poor puck luck and persevered to pull out an overtime victory.

The Lightning dominated the opening period, but a couple of mistakes in their own end late in the frame allowed Columbus to strike twice and take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

The Bolts vastly outplayed the Blue Jackets in the second period, owning a 16-5 advantage in shots. But Mathieu Joseph's goal finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Point was the only score to show for it as the Lightning and Blue Jackets entered the second intermission knotted up 2-2.

"The second period was really good," Cooper said. "It was tough because it just felt like so many pucks were bouncing around the crease there and we couldn't get a stick on them. But we were doing a lot of good things. The big thing for me is we weren't giving up the odd-man rushes. We weren't really giving up chances. We were pretty responsible all the way around."

The Lightning faced another gut check early in the third when Eric Robinson pounced on a loose puck off a blocked shot in the left circle and beat Andrei Vasilevskiy at the far post to put Columbus back in the lead 55 seconds into the period.

Barre-Boulet answered a little over a minute later with his power-play marker to tie the game 3-3. The Lightning played sound defensively down the stretch to secure the point. And in overtime, Victor Hedman scored 10 seconds in to send the Bolts to a deserved win. Hedman netted his 19th career game-winning goal to pass Pavel Kubina and take over as Tampa Bay's all-time leader for game-winning goals by a defenseman.

"That's hockey for you," Hedman said of trailing twice in the game. "We've been on the other side being outshot and had a lead. We knew if we kept playing the right way we're going to get our looks and we're going to bury one. Was good for the power play to come through. We've had some good looks but haven't been able to capitalize. It was big for us to get one."

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