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5 Keys: Blue Jackets at Lightning, Game 2

Columbus needs more strong play from Bobrovsky; Tampa Bay focused on better puck management

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BLUE JACKETS at LIGHTNING

7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SUN, FS-O, SN360, TVAS

Columbus leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to sweep the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight year when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena on Friday.

The Blue Jackets, who came back from a three-goal deficit to win 4-3 in Game 1 on Wednesday, took a 2-0 series lead with back-to-back road wins against the Washington Capitals in the first round last year. Washington won the next four games and eventually the Stanley Cup.

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 series own an all-time series record of 318-50 (86.4 percent), including a 72-20 record when they come on the road (78.3 percent).

 

[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

The Lightning are 7-7 all time in Game 2 after losing Game 1, including 5-3 at home.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:

 

1. Bobrovsky's big bounce back

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky took a big step in changing the narrative that he's not a good playoff goalie with his play in the final two periods of Game 1.

Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period, and Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said he looked nervous. Bobrovsky responded with 16 saves on 16 shots in the second and third.

Entering the series Bobrovsky was 5-14 with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 24 playoff appearances. If he can build off what happened in Game 1, the Blue Jackets could return to Columbus with a stunning 2-0 lead in the series.

 

2. Narrow the gaps

The Lightning love the stretch pass and it has worked for them all season. But if they get another lead in Game 2, especially if it's early, they'd be better served by having their forwards come back more to reduce the gap in the neutral zone, which would help with their puck control and limit turnovers.

For example, defenseman David Savard wouldn't have had the chance to score his goal in the third period of Game 1 that cut Tampa Bay's lead to 3-2 had Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman taken his time with the puck once he went back and got it and had the Lightning's forwards come back into the picture to give him better and closer passing options on the breakout.

Video: CBJ@TBL, Gm1: Savard tallies after nice moves on rush

Instead, Hedman threw the puck up the ice, off the boards, right to Savard, who had time and space to get speed through the neutral zone, which helped him make a move around Hedman and eventually score with a far-side shot.

"Attention to detail is key and I don't think we had that attention to detail once we had the lead," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said.

 

3. Cohesion on Blue Jackets' PK

Columbus scored a shorthanded goal and held the Lightning's top-ranked power play (28.2 percent) to 0-for-3 with two shots on goal in Game 1.

The key to the Blue Jackets' success on the penalty kill, Tortorella said, is how each unit of four operates in sync, which especially is important against a power play like Tampa Bay's, which can score from any spot if the penalty killers are out of position even slightly.

 

4. Tampa Bay's balance of skill and smarts

The Lightning feel their problem in Game 1 was they tried to pad the lead by going for creative and somewhat risky plays instead of trying to protect the lead by making smarter, safer plays with the puck.

They'll have to make the adjustment to be more protective if they get another lead in Game 2, which means look for even their most skilled players, including forwards Nikita Kucherov, Stamkos and Brayden Point to play more of a chip and chase game than they normally would.

 

5. Physicality important for Lightning too

The Lightning are considered the skilled team while the Blue Jackets are viewed as the heavier, more physical team. Except in the first period of Game 1 it was the Lightning taking the body and being the aggressors, especially on the forecheck that led to Yanni Gourde's goal that made it 3-0 at 17:50 of the first period.

Video: CBJ@TBL, Gm1: Gourde tips one home at doorstep

The problem is the Lightning's aggression declined as the game wore on, and it cost them. They were credited with 18 hits before Nick Foligno scored at 9:15 of the second period to make it 3-1, and 28 before Savard's goal.

The Lightning were credited with three hits in the final 12:04.

"It seemed to go the other way, when we kind of took our foot off the gas," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "I'd like to see us continue that throughout the game instead of just hearing our fans cheer and getting a couple hits. We want to be physical throughout the game."

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Cam Atkinson

Ryan Dzingel -- Matt Duchene -- Josh Anderson

Alexandre Texier -- Nick Foligno -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Brandon Dubinsky -- Boone Jenner -- Riley Nash

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Markus Nutivaara -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Dean Kukan

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Keith Kinkaid, Eric Robinson, Andrew Peeke, Alexander Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen

Injured: Adam McQuaid (upper body), Ryan Murray (upper body)

 

Lightning projected lineup

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Steven Stamkos -- Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- J.T. Miller

Adam Erne -- Cedric Paquette -- Mathieu Joseph

Victor Hedman -- Dan Girardi

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Jan Rutta

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Braydon Coburn, Danick Martel, Ryan Callahan

Injured: Anton Stralman (lower body)

 

Status report

The Blue Jackets did not have a morning skate. … Stralman was a full participant at morning skate but was paired with Coburn and will not play Friday. … Miller and Palat each took reps on the first power play, joining Stamkos, Point, Kucherov and Hedman. Palat played with the first unit in Game 1, when the Lightning went 0-for-3 on the power play with two shots on goal and allowed a shorthanded goal.

NHL.com correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

 

LISTEN: NHL Fantasy on Ice: Game 1 reaction & Game 2 previews

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