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game recap

Kucherov, Lightning top Blue Jackets in OT for seventh straight win

Forward scores two goals, McElhinney makes 31 saves; Columbus 9-1-2 in past 12

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Kucherov scores overtime winner

TBL@CBJ: Kucherov wins it in overtime for Lightning

Brayden Point steals the puck and dishes to Victor Hedman, who sets up Nikita Kucherov for the winning goal in overtime

  • 00:48 •

COLUMBUS -- Nikita Kucherov scored his second goal of the game 31 seconds into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning their seventh straight win, 2-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

Tampa Bay (36-15-5), which also has a nine-game point streak (8-0-1), moved within three points of the Boston Bruins for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning, who were without forward Steven Stamkos because of a lower-body injury, are 19-2-1 in their past 22 games.

Curtis McElhinney made 31 saves for Tampa Bay.

 

[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Blue Jackets highlights]

 

It was the first time the teams have played each other since the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs last April.

"We got two points and we're happy with that," Kucherov said. "What happened in the past stays there and we're trying not to think about it. But I guess those guys are trying to say something about last year on the ice, but who cares?"

Video: TBL@CBJ: Kucherov tips in feed from Sergachev

Elvis Merzlikins made 28 saves for Columbus (30-17-10), which is 9-1-2 in its past 12 games. The Blue Jackets, who were without defenseman Seth Jones (ankle) and forward Cam Atkinson (lower body), hold the first Wild Card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"It felt like a playoff game a little bit," Columbus defenseman David Savard said. "Those types of games are fun to be a part of."

Kucherov, who has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) during an 11-game point streak, won it when he one-timed a pass from Victor Hedman. Brayden Point pressured defenseman Zach Werenski behind the Blue Jackets net, stole the puck and passed to Hedman in the left circle.

"I [screwed] that one up. That's about it pretty much," Werenski said.

Kucherov gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 2:29 of the first period with a redirection of Mikhail Sergachev's shot during a 4-on-4.

Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it 1-1 at 3:44 of the second period. He got a partial break off a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois and scored with a backhand shot for his 18th goal.

The Blue Jackets outshot the Lightning 15-6 in the second.

"We had to regroup, hold onto the puck a little more and make smarter plays," Bjorkstrand said. "I thought we did a good job of that in the second and third periods."

Columbus forward Liam Foudy nearly broke the tie in his NHL debut at 11:18 of the second period, but his shot from the left circle was saved by McElhinney's right pad.

"I was hoping and praying it was in," Foudy said.

He said he was able to adjust to the pace after a few shifts.

"Then you realize it's just another hockey game, don't overthink it too much and just go out there and play your game," he said.

The Blue Jackets again almost took the lead with 5:29 remaining in the third period, but forward Boone Jenner hit the crossbar.

Merzlikins forced overtime when he stretched out and made a glove save on Kucherov's one-timer with 1:18 left.

"It was two pretty good hockey teams that went at it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's probably fitting that it went to overtime."

Video: EA Sports Overtime Winner: Kucherov wins it for TBL

 

They said it

"There was a lot of anticipation coming into this game. It was a game we wanted to win. We've been playing well. I think they have as well. Whenever you play a team that you played in the playoffs before, it seems like there's a higher level of gamesmanship, especially since what happened last year. But I don't think we were thinking about it a crazy amount, to be honest." -- Lightning forward Alex Killorn

"The thing that frustrates me is I want us to have a chance to win the overtime. And if they're going to beat us, I want them to beat us, not us beat ourselves. That's what's frustrating to me. I want to see it play out; let it play out, not have it end that way." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

Video: TBL@CBJ: Bjorkstrand dekes out McElhinney on break

 

Need to know

Point has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in a seven-game point streak. … Lightning forward Patrick Maroon played his 500th NHL game. … Tampa Bay went 0-for-3 on the power play and has not scored on its past 23 chances over nine games. … Foudy, the No. 18 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, had two shots on goal in 10:23 of ice time after being recalled from London of the Ontario Hockey League on an emergency basis. He is the 12th rookie to play for the Blue Jackets this season. … Columbus is 11-for-11 on the penalty kill over its past six games.

 

What's next

Lightning: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, ATTSN-PT, SUN, NHL.TV)

Blue Jackets: At the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Video: Lightning top Blue Jackets in overtime

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