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First Round

Blue Jackets reset after bad first period, defeat Lightning in Game 1

Bobrovsky helps Columbus switch momentum in Eastern series

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Columbus Blue Jackets awoke from their nightmare after 20 minutes Wednesday and wound up making their dream scenario a reality in the final 40.

The Blue Jackets went from trailing by three goals and getting dominated to scoring four straight and defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena.

"We found a way," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said.


[RELATED: Lightning learn lesson blowing lead in Game 1 | Complete series coverage]


That they did after their horrid start is impressive, especially against the Lightning, the NHL's best regular-season team in 23 years that was 31-1-2 when leading after the first period in the regular season.

But how the Blue Jackets found a way is what really matters as they look ahead to Game 2 at Tampa on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVAS, SUN, FS-O) and the rest of the best-of-7 series.

"We just stuck with it," said Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 14:05 of the third period. "We stuck with our game. Whether we came back or not we have to play a certain way; that's hard, that's physical, that's straight ahead. Once we start doing that we start feeling good about ourselves."

Video: CBJ@TBL, Gm1: Blue Jackets rally to win series opener

The Blue Jackets didn't play hard, physical or straight ahead in the first period, and it showed.

They gave up a shorthanded breakaway goal to Lightning forward Alex Killorn at 4:12 because Jones couldn't make a simple play to keep puck in at the left point.

They allowed a rebound goal to forward Anthony Cirelli at 11:01 because goalie Sergei Bobrovsky couldn't handle a long shot and defensemen Marcus Nutivaara and David Savard were up high near the hash marks instead of down low in front of the crease, allowing Cirelli to get behind them.

They allowed a deflection goal to forward Yanni Gourde at 17:50 because they were caught running around in their own zone, out of position and unable to get the puck out.

"The things we talked about after the first period in general terms were we're just losing too many battles in the first period of a playoff game on the wall," Tortorella said. "I think two goals that they scored were due to just not getting it done on the wall. At times we have a chance to block shots and we didn't block shots. … We have to be able to grind with them and we didn't in the first period."

Nick Foligno, the Blue Jackets' captain, said they used the intermission to reset themselves. Foligno said that everybody spoke up, that everybody had something to say.

"We talked about just staying with it, finding a way to get our game going," he said.

They got a jumpstart from Bobrovsky's save on Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov 26 seconds into the second period with Tampa Bay on the power play. It was essentially a 2-on-0 with Steven Stamkos and Kucherov. Bobrovsky went post to post to stop Kucherov's one-timer.

"Huge," Foligno said. "That gets us going. He doesn't make that save, then this game is out of reach. To keep it 3-0 and then find a way to get to 3-1 and then just pick away, pick away."

Foligno made it 3-1 with a breakaway goal at 9:15, a result of an ill-advised pass by Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh to partner Erik Cernak that was tipped by Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson, enough to spring Foligno.

Video: CBJ@TBL, Gm1: Foligno cashes in on breakaway

Down 3-1, this is when the Blue Jackets got their forecheck going, tilting the ice on the Lightning, forcing them to play defense, keeping the puck out of the hands of Stamkos, Kucherov and center Brayden Point, their three 40-goal scorers.

"We were smarter with our puck play and it allowed us to get a forecheck going," Foligno said. "You could just see our game starting to come from that. Our legs got going, our decisions with the puck were so much better and it just puts us in better positions to be offensive."

It still took a sprawling glove save by Bobrovsky on Stamkos at the left post as the buzzer sounded to keep the game within reach going into the third period. It was his 11th save of the second period after he was beaten three times on 13 shots in the first.

Bobrovsky made five more saves in the third and finished with 26.

"We don't have a chance if he doesn't play the way he plays that last 40," Tortorella said.

A solo rush by Savard, who went around Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, cut the lead to 3-2 at 7:56 of the third period.

The Blue Jackets' excellent penalty kill, which was tied for first in the NHL this season with the Lightning and Arizona Coyotes at 85.0 percent, turned a high sticking double minor by Brandon Dubinsky at 9:23 into a game-changing shorthanded goal by Anderson at 11:54.

Jones capped the comeback with his power-play goal at 14:05.

"I was really proud of the group because once we got life we started to take over and started to instill our game on them," Foligno said. "It's going to be huge in this series because that's a good team, man, and they don't need much to make you pay. But we showed we can score some big goals too."

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