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Lightning top Blue Jackets for 10th straight home win

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Ben Bishop made 34 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Brett Connolly, Cedric Paquette and Valtteri Filppula scored for Tampa Bay (32-15-4), which set a Lightning record with its 10th consecutive win at home. It remains first in the Eastern Conference with 68 points.

"We play with a lot of confidence at home, and we know how important these games are when it comes down to playoff-seeding time," Bishop said. "This win was different because I knew they were going to make it tough on our offense. They turned up the heat in the second half of the game, but eventually our offense is going to get some chances, so we had to wait them out."

Columbus (21-24-3) has lost its past three games on the road.

"It could have been different, we had some good opportunities, did some good things, ripped really all game," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "They're a very good hockey team. They're a fast team. I thought we skated with them. We gave them two goals though. You can't give good teams goals. They're a good enough team to earn them on their own, but we had two opportunities with pucks on our stick and we turned it over and the puck's in the back of our net."

Connolly's ninth goal of the season came with 23.5 seconds left in the first period when Brenden Morrow set him up in front of the net with a touch pass that Connolly chipped past Columbus goalie Curtis McElhinney for a 1-0 lead.

Paquette scored at 10:02 of the third period, his 10th goal of the season, after McElhinney made three saves on shots by Alex Killorn and Jonathan Drouin. The loose puck ended up on Drouin's stick and he faked a shot to get McElhinney out of position before passing it to Paquette, who sent it into the open net.

It was Paquette's fifth goal in the past three games.

"I'm just finding myself in the right place at the right time," he said. "I went to the front of the net and the opportunity was there. Nothing different than what I've been doing all season, but right now the puck is going in and that's a good feeling."

Filppula scored his 10th goal of the season at 11:43 of the third period when he sent a wrist shot from the left circle past McElhinney on the stick side. He is the seventh Lightning player to have at least 10 goals this season.

"As we talked to our guys today, we thought it was pivotal that we had to get the lead and we did that," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "They are a very tough team to play, they make it hard to get through the neutral zone and they forecheck you hard, they hit, and they are big team on defense. We expected a tough, close game and were prepared for it."

Johansen scored his 19th goal of the season at 16:34 in the third period off assists from David Savard and Ryan Murray, who was playing his first game since Nov. 1.

"It felt good to be back out there and we had a lot of chances to make this a different game down the stretch," the defenseman said. "We didn't do what we needed to do with our chances, and we had a few shifts in the third period that we should have been better on."

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