This was a highly entertaining game between two of the NHL's powerhouse teams. The Lightning and Blue Jackets both had their strong moments in this game. The Lightning attacked the Blue Jackets with speed and quick puck movement. The Blue Jackets were at their best when they used their size and strength to control pucks along the boards. The Lightning had an edge in play during most of the first two periods (and built a 4-2 lead), while the Blue Jackets were able to control much of the third (and rallied to force overtime). In the end, the Lightning picked up the extra point because a) they killed a four-on-three Columbus power play in overtime and b) Steven Stamkos scored the only goal in the shootout.
The teams traded goals in the first and while it's true that Columbus generated some good scoring chances (and posted 15 shots in the frame), the Lightning were the more dangerous team. The Blue Jackets had trouble bottling up the Lightning in the neutral zone and the Bolts repeatedly created good looks off the rush. The Lightning also used a quick forecheck to create turnovers in the Columbus end. One of those offensive zone steals came moments before a highlight reel passing play between Mikhail Sergachev and Nikita Kucherov. Sergachev, who scored two goals against Columbus during the first meeting between the clubs, sold a shot from the left circle. Sergei Bobrovsky came out to challenge the anticipated shot, but Sergachev instead delivered a no-look cross-ice pass to Kucherov, who deposited the puck into an open net. Brayden Point also had a strong first period, posting five shots and scoring the first Lightning goal. Those tallies offset two Columbus goals - one resulted from an unlucky deflection off Victor Hedman and the other was due to a d-zone breakdown.
The second period was the Lightning's strongest overall frame. They limited the Blue Jackets to six shots (and three of those came in the closing minutes). The Lightning had most of the puck possession and added two more goals. Stamkos' power play goal came at the end of a dizzying passing sequence and, like Kucherov's first period tally, was shot into an open net after a cross-ice pass. Yanni Gourde added to the lead following a tenacious forechecking shift in the offensive zone.
But Columbus is one of the league's top teams for a reason. The Blue Jackets pushed back in the third and were able to win numerous puck battles along the boards. That led to more puck possession, offensive zone time, shots and scoring chances. They tied the game with a couple of quick goals halfway through the frame.
In overtime, the Lightning spent two of the five minutes shorthanded, but Andrei Vasilevksiy made two terrific saves on Artemi Panarin to extend the game. As a whole, the Lightning's PK did a wonderful job, killing all four Columbus power play chances. Vasilveskiy made three more saves during the shootout and Stamkos scored in the third round, securing the second point for the Lightning.
This was a quality win against a quality team. Even with the blown third period lead, the Lightning should feel good about how well they bounced back from Thursday's uneven performance against the Rangers.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Paul Ysebaert):
Vasilevskiy's overtime saves on Panarin.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Paul Ysebaert):
- Brayden Point - Lightning. Goal. Six shots.
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Goal and assist.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 30 saves plus three more in the shootout.