In terms of flow of play, this was a very strange game. After a evenly-played scoreless first period, momentum swung to the Lightning in the second. Jonathan Marchessault scored at the 11:11 mark and the Lightning dominated the rest of the frame. But despite their territorial advantage, they couldn’t add to their lead. After Marchessault’s goal, the Blue Jackets had hardly any offensive zone time for the rest of the period. But on one of their rare offensive zone sequences, they got a goal from Brandon Dubinsky to tie the score at 16:46.
Then, in the third, even though the Lightning broke the tie with a Brian Boyle shorthanded goal, they were unable to maintain any of their second period momentum. Instead, the Blue Jackets decisively controlled the final 14 minutes of the game. They generated numerous scoring chances, but couldn’t get the game tied.
It was unusual to see momentum shift so drastically in a game, particularly when the Lightning looked as though they were physically wearing down the Blue Jackets in the second. Which is not always how the Lightning play. The Bolts often utilize their speed and skill to make plays. But this game more resembled a heavyweight bout. There were hard puck battles waged all over the ice.
And it was impressive to see the Lightning excel in that style of game during their terrific second period stretch. Marchessault’s goal occurred after Boyle and Killorn finished checks on Columbus players in the Blue Jackets end. Killorn’s check on Alexander Wennberg led to an errant pass in the middle of the ice. Marchessault jumped on the puck and rifled it past Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who played well in his NHL debut.
Similarly, on the winning goal, Killorn leaned on Wennberg to force a turnover. During a Columbus power play, Wennberg had fumbled the puck a bit at the offensive blue line. Killorn shoved him out of the way and grabbed the puck, countering on a two-on-one with Boyle. Killorn got the puck past Ryan Murray to Boyle, who finished into the top of the net.
But the Lightning weren’t able to maintain their territorial advantage for most of the third. It started with the play on which they were called for the penalty that eventually led to Boyle’s shorthanded goal. The Jackets had a glorious chance to score off the rush on that play, something they would repeat throughout the frame. They also forechecked ferociously and held pucks in the offensive zone. It seemed that nearly every shift after that penalty at the 5:51 mark featured dangerous looks for Columbus.
So with that wobbly third period performance, how did the Lightning get this game across the finish line? First of all, Ben Bishop was outstanding in the final frame. He made 12 saves, which included stops on multiple breakaways. (Incidentally, Bishop was terrific throughout the game – he also made saves on Columbus scoring chances during the first and the early stages of the second). Secondly, the Lightning defended hard in front of Bishop. They didn’t allow the Blue Jackets easy access to pucks on scramble plays in the crease. The best of those defensive plays came when J.T. Brown knocked the puck away from Cam Atkinson as Atkinson was about to finish on a wraparound. And lastly, the Lightning got some puck luck. It’s not something they’ve had a lot of this season, but they got it tonight. On that aforementioned first dangerous Columbus rush in the third, Scott Hartnell had an open net, but put his shot off the leg of Matt Carle. Carle wasn’t even facing Hartnell at the time, so it was certainly a lucky block.
The Blue Jackets also missed the net on several dangerous looks. And in the closing minutes, Dubinsky slipped a shot from the side of the net off a sprawled Bishop. The puck dropped behind Bishop and landed on the goal line. It was going across the goal line, but stopped before it went completely across. So yes, the Lightning had some good fortune in this game. But they also did a number of things extremely well, particularly when they dominated play in the second.
As mentioned earlier, the game followed a strange script. The period that the Lightning controlled ended up even. And the Blue Jackets got outscored in the period they controlled. More important than the weird game flow, though, is this fact – the Bolts were desperate for two points, no matter how they got it. Mission accomplished.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game
Bishop’s 12 third period saves.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game
1.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 25 saves.
2.Alex Killorn – Lightning. Assist.
3.Brandon Dubinsky – Blue Jackets. Goal.