Clearly, the two big stars of this game for the Lightning were Mikhail Sergachev, who netted his first two NHL goals, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who posted a 43-save shutout. From a team standpoint, the Lightning should feel very good about finishing the road trip with a victory against a quality opponent.
The first period may have been the Lightning's best period of the year so far. Shots may have been relatively close (13-10 for the Lightning), but the ice was tilted into the Columbus end for virtually the entire frame. It was a complete performance for the Lightning in every way. They managed the puck well, so they didn't spend much time in the defensive end. They used their speed to generate looks off the rush. They closed on Columbus defenders in the Blue Jackets end to force turnovers. They accumulated a handful of Grade-A scoring chances. But until Sergachev's first goal, which came with 2:17 left in the period, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Lightning at bay. They finally got rewarded with the Sergachev blast. The slapshot, which came after Vladdy Namestnikov won a puck battle deep in the offensive zone, went through a screen and beat Bobrovsky on the stick side
Although the Lightning decisively dictated play in the first, they weren't able to maintain that advantage in the final two periods. The first half of the second was more evenly played - the Lightning's best sequence came when they pinned the Blue Jackets back in the d-zone for an extended period of time and didn't allow the tired Columbus players to get off the ice.
In the second half of the period, the Blue Jackets built a puck possession advantage, accumulated shots and generated some scoring chances. But Vasilevskiy kept them off the board and then, with under five minutes left in the period, the Lightning added to their lead. They got control of a loose puck and brought it into the Columbus end. From the right circle, Nikita Kucherov set up Sergachev in the slot. Sergachev roofed a wrister over Bobrovsky's glove to extend the Lightning lead.
The rest of the second and much of the third followed the same script. The Lightning ceded most of the puck possession to Columbus. The Blue Jackets put pressure on the Lightning and racked up lots of shots. Some were routine saves for Vasilevskiy, others were not. But he stopped them all, preserving the Lightning lead.
The Bolts picked up five out of six points on the three-game trip. Now they return home to face the Penguins for the second time already this year at Amalie Arena.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Sergachev's first goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Mikhail Sergachev - Lightning. First two NHL goals.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 43-save shutout.
- Yanni Gourde - Lightning. Four shots.