Under head coach Todd Richards, the Columbus Blue Jackets have the identity of an extremely hard-working team. No matter the score, they play hard – and are hard to play against. They were a playoff team last year and many people around the league expected them to contend for a postseason berth again this season. But Columbus has dealt with numerous injuries this year – and those injuries have contributed to their last place position in the Metropolitan Division.
Still, the Jackets play hard and, for most of Saturday’s game, they contested every play the Lightning attempted to make. If you believe that good luck is borne from hard work, well, the Blue Jackets got plenty of good bounces, too. For example, on their first power play chance, the Jackets scored to extend their first period lead to 2-0. But the only reason why the puck was in Lightning zone was that Matt Carle’s clearing attempt hit Ondrej Palat, who was standing at the defensive blue line. It was that kind of night for the Lightning. Bounces didn’t go their way, but it’s true that the Blue Jackets earned many of their bounces.
When Columbus had some breakdowns – and there were some of those throughout the game – goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky bailed them out. He made several key stops, including point blank chances for Brett Connolly and Brendan Morrow in the first and a wide open look for Steven Stamkos in the slot late in the second. After Ondrej Palat scored during a sixth-attacker situation with 1:13 left, Bobrovsky made a terrific left skate save on a Palat deflection during the next shift.
As well as the Blue Jackets played, the Bolts seemed out of synch. There wasn’t enough traffic on Bobrovsky. Despite firing 34 shots on net, the Lightning passed up many other shots (or held onto pucks too long, turning high percentage looks into lower percentage chances). So, while giving credit to Columbus, the Lightning know they can execute much better. And if they hope to get back in the win column, they’ll need to have a much crisper performance on Tuesday against Washington.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Bobrovsky’s key saves throughout the game.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Sergei Bobrovsky – Blue Jackets. 33 saves.
2.Boone Jenner – Blue Jackets. Goal.
3.Jack Johnson – Blue Jackets. Assist. Game-high 27:40 TOI.