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Stamkos scores twice, Lightning defeat Blue Jackets

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Steven Stamkos scored two goals in a 32-second span of the second period to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Mike Blunden, Nikita Nesterov and Jason Garrison scored for the Lightning (18-15-3), who have won two of the first three games on their six-game homestand.

Rene Bourque and Scott Hartnell scored for the Blue Jackets (13-21-3), who have lost the first two games on a three-game road trip.

"It was a weird game; I think we were extremely fortunate, to be honest," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We were trying to find our legs in the first period and they played hard. In the second period ... we had to score on the 5-on-3 opportunities and we did."

Stamkos' first goal tied the game 2-2 at 6:21 of the second period. With the Lightning on a 5-on-3, Nikita Kucherov faked a shot from the right circle and passed to Stamkos in the slot, where he put a one-timer into the open side of the net with Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo far out of position.

The Lightning captain scored in the slot again 32 seconds later when he was able to size up Korpisalo and send a wrist shot through the five-hole for a 3-2 lead. Jonathan Marchessault and Kucherov had the assists on Stamkos' 15th and 16th goals.

"I was looking for some options and realized I had some time," Stamkos said. "You're not going to get much better looks than that from in the slot. So I picked my head up and knew where I wanted to shoot and shot it."

Stamkos' two goals were the fastest consecutive power-play goals scored by a Lightning player, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"That's a perfect example of what special teams can do to a hockey game if you execute," Stamkos said. "We didn't take [the 5-on-3] for granted. We beared down when we got them. It was a big response for us. We moved the puck around well and got some good looks."

Tampa Bay's power-play success continued later in the period when Nesterov scored his second goal of the season to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead. Ryan Callahan made a centering pass from behind the net that was intended for Alex Killorn but missed him and found the stick of Nesterov, who took a slap shot past Korpisalo from the right circle.

Tampa Bay was 1-for-10 on the power play in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

"With the quality of players we have here [the power play] comes down to execution," Marchessault said. "It was a just of matter of time before we showed up and [Saturday] we did."

Korpisalo made 14 saves and was pulled for Curtis McElhinney at the start of the third period.

"I thought we had complete control of the game up until the first penalty with [Dalton] Prout [was] a little iffy and that started everything," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I think we had three penalties in two seconds and I've never seen that before. That was the beginning of the end for us."

Mike Blunden gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 5:34 in the first period with his second goal of the season; he redirected a slap shot from defenseman Andrej Sustr past Korpisalo.

Bourque tied the game 1-1 at 9:44 after Boone Jenner's slap shot hit Bourque's skate and the puck got past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. A video review upheld the goal.

"I think we definitely did some good things but [gave up] two 5-on-3 goals and a 5-on-4 goal," Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. "They have a good power play and a lot of guys that can move it around. We had some dumb penalties and that was the difference."

Columbus took a 2-1 lead when Hartnell got a stick on a slap shot by Prout and redirected it past Bishop at 3:07 of the second period.

Hartnell was given a five-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct for hitting Bishop behind the net at 9:29 of the second period.

"We get the lead, and immediately after we're up 2-1 we give up two odd-man rushes the next two shifts and then we take three penalties in the next two seconds," Tortorella said. "Those are the types of things that have really defined us, at least since I've been here. I'm not trying to disrespect Tampa at all, but we give too many things for free."

Garrison scored his first goal since opening night and gave the Lightning a 5-2 lead 4:39 into the third period on a wrist shot that beat McElhinney on the glove side.

Bishop made 30 saves for the Lightning, who host the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. The Blue Jackets play the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

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