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Tampa Bay will open the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a matchup vs. Columbus

by Bryan Burns /

To win their second Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have to defeat the team coached by the man who led them to their first.

The John Tortorella-led Columbus Blue Jackets will be Tampa Bay's First Round opponent for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blue Jackets finished 47-31-4 (98 pts.) to claim the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and qualify for the postseason for the third-consecutive season and fifth season overall.

Columbus has never won a playoff series.

Game 1 of the First Round series between Tampa Bay and Columbus will take place Wednesday at AMALIE Arena. Game 2 is Friday in Tampa.

Games 3 and 4 will be held Sunday and Tuesday, respectively, at Columbus' Nationwide Arena.

All starting times are scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern.

READ MORE: NHL announces First Round playoff schedule

Tortorella was Tampa Bay's head coach for seven seasons from 2000-01 to 2007-08, compiling a 239-222-36-38 record, four playoff appearances and the franchise's only Stanley Cup in 2004.
The Lightning have never faced Columbus in a playoff series.

Tampa Bay, which won the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history after compiling a NHL record-tying 62 wins and 128 points, finished 3-0-0 against Columbus during the regular season, outscoring the Blue Jackets 17-3. The Lightning scored eight goals, tying a season high, in an 8-2 win over the Blue Jackets in the third regular season game of the year October 13, Brayden Point scoring a pair of goals to pace the Bolts.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn his 14th career shutout in a 4-0 win over Columbus January 8. Three of Vasilevskiy's 18 career shutouts have come against the Blue Jackets, more than he has against any other NHL team.

The Lightning completed the regular season sweep of Columbus with a 5-1 victory in the lone meeting at Nationwide Arena February 18, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point each netting two goals.

The Bolts have swept the regular season series from the Blue Jackets the last two seasons and are on a six-game win streak against Columbus, the Lightning having shut out the Blue Jackets in three of those six wins. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Tampa Bay is 11-4-0 versus the Blue Jackets.

Tampa Bay owns a 20-10-0 record with one tie all-time against Columbus, including a 12-4-0 mark at home and an 8-6-0 record with one tie in Columbus.

Tampa Bay qualified for the playoffs for the second-consecutive season, fifth time in the last six seasons and 11th time overall in franchise history. The Lightning are 6-4 in opening round series and have advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in each of their last three playoff appearances.

The Bolts are just 3-7 in playoff opening games but have won their last two. Tampa Bay is 3-3 in home playoff openers.

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