Just over three minutes into the second period, Columbus forward Scott Hartnell tipped a shot from Dalton Prout past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. That goal gave Columbus a 2-1 lead and came as the Blue Jackets were enjoying a momentum surge. Columbus had been carrying play in those early minutes of the period and was committed to putting pucks on net with traffic in front of Bishop.
But less than two minutes later, the entire complexion of the game completely changed. Prout was whistled for a cross-checking penalty. On the ensuring faceoff, Columbus centerman Gregory Campbell gloved the puck back to a teammate, a play that results in an automatic penalty. The Campbell infraction gave the Lightning a two-minute five-on-three power play. Following a Columbus faceoff win on the next draw, Jack Johnson shot the puck out of play, resulting in another automatic penalty. The three penalties occurred in a three-second span.
The Lightning didn’t record a shot on goal during the first 1:25 of the two-minute five-on-three. But their first shot on the two-man advantage went in. From the right circle, Nikita Kucherov slid a cross-ice pass to Steven Stamkos at the bottom of the left circle. With the puck moving toward his skates, Stamkos maneuvered his stick so that he could one-time his shot. He beat Joonas Korpisalo to tie the score at two.
The goal ended the Prout penalty, but triggered the start of the Johnson infraction. So, the Lightning still had 35 seconds worth of five-on-three power play time. And Stamkos scored again, once more from the left circle. On this goal, Stamkos had the puck and was looking to make a pass. But the Blue Jackets didn’t pressure him, so he eventually snapped a shot through Korpisalo’s pads. The second five-on-three goal came with only three seconds left on the two-man advantage.
Those two goals gave the Lightning the lead back – for good. Halfway through the period, Columbus got into more penalty trouble when Hartnell bowled over Bishop behind the Lightning net and received a charging major penalty. (It became a three-minute major when Alex Killorn took a retaliatory roughing minor). With just 13 seconds left in the major, Nikita Nesterov accepted a no-look cross ice pass from Ryan Callahan and buried a shot from the right circle.
Those three power play goals settled down the Lightning’s game. They defended well in the closing minutes of the second and throughout the third. The Blue Jackets, down by multiple goals and with a shortened bench because of the Hartnell game misconduct, weren’t as dangerous as they had been earlier in the game.
That was good news for the Lightning, because there were points in the first period and early in the second when the Blue Jackets had the Lightning back on their heels. But the power play, which let down the Lightning in Tuesday’s loss to Vancouver, greatly helped them in this contest. One doesn’t expect to receive multiple five-on-three power plays and a major power play in the same game. The Lightning did in this game, however, and it was crucial that they were able to take advantage of those opportunities.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Stamkos’ second five-on-three PPG, which turned out to be the game-winner.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Two PPG and assist.
2.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. Two assists.
3.Mike Blunden – Lightning. Goal and assist.