This was a frustrating defeat for the Lightning. It was a game in which they played well enough to (at least) earn one point. They forced Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo to make a number of difficult saves. They consistently retrieved pucks in the offensive zone and effectively navigated their way through the neutral zone. They did a reasonably good job of limiting Columbus' Grade-A scoring chances.
But against one of the top teams in the league - and Columbus now owns a league-leading 62 points - the margin for error is a slim one. A couple of costly mistakes ended up in their own net and cost them a chance to get points out of this game.
In the first period, the Lightning outshot the Blue Jackets, 19-6, and grabbed a 1-0 lead after Jonathan Drouin converted a tic-tac-toe passing sequence.
The Lightning had several chances to open up a bigger lead. They hit three posts in the first two periods. They also nearly scored when Michael Bournival had a shot hit his skate and carom towards the net. But David Savard had the puck hit his skate and ricochet away from the goal line. So the lead remained only 1-0.
Then, late in the second, the Blue Jackets benefitted from a lucky bounce. Savard's left point shot hit Braydon Coburn and fluttered right to Josh Anderson in the low slot. Anderson finished his chance to tie the game. A fortunate break for the Blue Jackets, but the sequence began with a Lightning d-zone turnover.
Another tough d-zone shift early in the third led to a Tyler Johnson penalty and Nick Foligno's power play goal that proved to be the difference in the game. On the play, the Lightning lost coverage on Foligno, who was unguarded in front of the net and buried a rebound chance.
The Lightning had a late power play opportunity of their own, but didn't execute well and surrendered a shorthanded empty-netter, setting the final at 3-1.
As a whole, the Lightning didn't play poorly, although they did struggle with Columbus' aggressive forecheck at points in the game. Ultimately, they ended up losing because of the following combination: strong opposition goaltending, some isolated (but costly) mistakes and bad puck luck. That can happen in hockey. The problem for the Lightning is that they don't have any cushion in the standings to withstand these types of results. Their record is now 20-20-4 and they are about to begin a six-game road trip.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Joonas Korpisalo - Blue Jackets. 31 saves.
- Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. Goal.
- Nick Foligno - Blue Jackets. GWG on power play.