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game recap

Blue Jackets near sweep after holding off Lightning in Game 3

Bobrovsky makes 30 saves; Tampa Bay was without suspended Kucherov, injured Hedman

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

Duchene backhands in rebound

TBL@CBJ, Gm3: Duchene roofs backhander on rebound

R1, Gm3: Matt Duchene flips a rebound on the backhand past Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead early in the 2nd

  • 00:51 •

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets moved within one win of a sweep after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Nationwide Arena on Sunday. 

Columbus, which is the only current NHL team to never win a Stanley Cup Playoff series, is the second team in League history to take a 3-0 series lead in the first round against the Presidents' Trophy winner, joining the Los Angeles Kings, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks in five games in 2012. 

"These fans deserve us getting the job done here at home," Blue Jackets forward Matt Duchene said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."


[WATCH: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Game 3 highlights | Complete series coverage]


Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is in Columbus on Tuesday.

"I'm happy about the way we've gone about our business," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We have a lot of work to do. We've got to be really careful here."

Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm3: Bjorkstrand wires home power-play goal

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves for Tampa Bay, which played without suspended forward Nikita Kucherov and injured defenseman Victor Hedman (undisclosed).

Kucherov, who led the NHL with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) in the regular season, was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara at 15:34 of third period in Game 2 on Friday. 

Nutivaara (upper body) did not play Sunday.

"[Kucherov]is a big part of our team," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "The leading scorer in the League. He's definitely going to be an MVP finalist, so anytime you take someone like that out of the lineup, as well as Hedman, but I thought we battled."

Duchene gave Columbus a 1-0 lead at 1:44 of the second period, getting the rebound in the right circle after Zach Werenski's initial shot was deflected in front by Cam Atkinson off Andrei Vasilevskiy's left pad. 

Oliver Bjorkstrand extended the lead to 2-0 at 8:25 on the power play, taking a pass from Seth Jones and scoring from the top of the right circle. Alexandre Texier had the secondary assist for his first playoff point.

"We played a patient game, each team had surges," Jones said. "The power play got us the second goal. A lot of momentum swings. I thought we handled ourselves very well tonight.

"They surged on us in the third. They started making plays and accelerating through the neutral zone, but we hung in there."

Tampa Bay outshot Columbus 17-8 in the third period.

"We started to make some plays," Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said "Throughout the game and throughout the series, I thought we were keeping it too simple in a way. We have a lot of skill in this room, we need to use it."

Ondrej Palat cut it to 2-1 at 4:40 of the third period after getting his own rebound and beating Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves, five-hole from in front. 

Atkinson scored into an empty net at 19:00 for the 3-1 final.

"If anything, maybe we found a recipe to break some of their structure there, but obviously it wasn't good enough," Lightning center Steven Stamkos said.

Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm3: Bobrovsky stops Palat's redirect


They said it

"We did a lot of good things, more than in Game 2 for sure. We've got to stick with the formula there and hope a few more find the back (of the net)." -- Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh

"They threw the kitchen sink at us in the third period and [Bobrovsky] was big for us. We did just enough to give up only one goal." -- Blue Jackets forward Matt Duchene


Need to know

Teams that lead a best-of-7 NHL playoff series 3-0 have a series record of 186-4. ... Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn had three shots in 15:39 of ice time in place of Hedman, and Ryan Callahan had five hits in 10:37 in place of Kucherov. There was no update on Hedman after the game. … Lightning forward Alex Killorn left the game third period with an undisclosed injury. There was no update after the game. … Adam Clendening made his playoff debut in place of Nutivaara, who is the third injured Blue Jackets defenseman, joining Ryan Murray and Adam McQuaid. … Columbus allowed three shots in the first period, the fewest in a home playoff game in its history. … The Blue Jackets can become the 10th team in NHL history to win a playoff series against a team that finished at least 30 points ahead of them in regular season (128-98). The most recent was the Montreal Canadiens (88 points), who defeated the Washington Capitals (121) in the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. 


What's next 

Game 4 of Eastern Conference First Round at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVAS, FS-O, SUN)

Video: Blue Jackets beat Lightning, go up 3-0 in series

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