The Lightning took care of business Monday, downing the Blue Jackets 2-1.
But the outcome was in doubt until the final horn.
Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie in the third period, taking a cross-ice pass from Alex Killorn on a shorthanded break and depositing the puck past Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who was making his NHL debut.
Then, the Lightning held on over a tense final 10 minutes, the Blue Jackets creating numerous scoring chances, including one where the puck slid underneath a lying-on-his-side Ben Bishop and clung to the goal line, millimeters from tying the game.
Bishop made 25 saves for his 13th win of the season.
The Bolts will try to complete the back-to-back sweep Tuesday in Toronto.
All the highlights from a much-needed Lightning victory ahead
- The injury bug snuck on the charter plane to Columbus and continued to harass the Lightning as the three-game road trip commenced.
The Lightning, already missing five forwards for various ailments, got just 1:38 time on ice out of Joel Vermin -- recalled from Syracuse earlier in the day -- before the first-year winger blocked a shot with his hand and had to sit out the remainder of the game with an upper-body injury.
“It’s unfortunate,” Lightning forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “It was a big blocked shot at that moment.”
For the second-straight game, the Bolts were forced to play a majority of the game with 10 forwards after going with an 11 forward/7 defensemen alignment and losing a forward early in the first period.
On Saturday, Ondrej Palat skated just 3:34 before heading to the locker room for good with a lower-body injury.
“Unreal isn’t it?” Cooper said following the game. “First shift again. I couldn’t, actually, I could believe it.”
Nothing is surprising anymore when it comes to the Lightning and injuries.
- The Blue Jackets certainly embrace Christmas at Nationwide Arena.
* Santa Claus is Coming to Town playing on the organ before warmups
* Filters cover the overhead arena lights to produce snowflake images on the ice
* A ring of green and red Christmas bulbs surrounding the center faceoff circle before the game
* In-arena host Mike Todd wearing a Blue Jackets ugly (emphasis on ugly) Christmas sweater
* The Ice Crew wearing elf hats while scraping the rink
- Ryan Callahan and Scott Hartnell dropped the gloves after the first-period horn sounded.
The fight was short-lived, but not before both could deliver a couple of good right hands to the head.
Callahan’s, however, did more damage. He hit Hartnell square on the jaw, dropping the 6-foot-2, 214 pound forward to end the scrap.
- I thought the song the Lightning come out to for the second period at Amalie Arena – Dokken’sLightning Strikes Again -- was cheesy.
That is, until I heard Columbus’ song.
Immortalized by Disturbed will not be making my iPod playlist anytime soon.
- Jonathan Marchessault started his NHL career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, playing in two games during the 2012-13 season before getting traded to the Lightning on March 5, 2014.
Marchessault has made an impact during his time in Tampa Bay. He played in two games during the 2014-15 regular season, scoring once, and became an option for Lightning head coach Jon Cooper during the playoffs, where he drew in for two games.
Since being recalled from Syracuse this season on November 15, Marchessault has been a mainstay in the Lightning lineup.
And on Monday, he made his former team pay for dealing him away.
Capitalizing on a turnover in the Blue Jackets’ defensive zone, Marchessault skated onto the puck and blasted a slap shot past Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for the game’s first goal and his third of the season.
“They didn’t see me coming off the bench,” said Marchessault, who has scored all three of his goals this season in the last 10 games.
- Brandon Dubinsky made a fantastic move late in the second period to tie the game.
The Blue Jackets center, playing his fourth season in Columbus, got the puck on the edge of the crease, pulled it back to elude a stick swipe by Ben Bishop then deposited the puck inside the far post, leveling the score 1-1.
- Wow, the Blue Jackets’ goal cannon is loud.
I thought I hated the cannons firing at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, but inside a roofed arena, Columbus has the pirate ship beat by a mile.
- Alex Killorn made a great individual play to produce the Bolts’ game-winning goal on a shorthanded two-on-one with Brian Boyle. Killorn stole the puck at his own blue line and carried it up the ice with Boyle on his right.
Killorn held the puck as long as he could, drawing the lone Columbus defenseman his way before slipping a picture-perfect pass to Boyle, who merely had to redirect the puck on the back post.
Following the game, Cooper said Killorn was “outstanding” in Columbus.
“He was powerful in both ends of the rink,” Cooper said. “He really commanded the puck, protected well, got everybody involved.”
- Raise your hand if you had Brian Boyle ranking third on the Lightning’s goal list 32 games into the season.
If your hand’s in the air, you’re lying.
Boyle scored his eighth of the season on Monday and trails team-leaders Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov by just three goals.
- Ben Bishop was the late-game hero for the Lightning, his effort on Dubinsky’s potential equalizer underscoring just how good the Bolts goalie has been all season.
With the puck ping-ponging its way around the crease, Bishop was forced to lie on his side across the goal mouth to block the net.
Still, Dubinsky got the puck on Bishop’s right post and found a small sliver of space underneath Bishop to shoot through. The puck wiggled underneath the netminder but stopped on the goal line before it could completely cross, Vladislav Namestnikov helping Bishop out by covering the puck with his hand and pushing it back into the Bishop’s body.
The fans at Nationwide Arena begged for the goal signal from the ref.
They didn’t give it.
“I think it went through my stick,” Bishop said. “I don’t know, I had it played the way I wanted to, and I guess it just snuck under my stick. I think 99 out of 100 times, it hits my stick.”