The last time we saw the Lightning, it was a dreadful night of special teams play, a 2-1 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks that saw them cash in just once on a season-high 10 power play opportunities. Tonight, following the three-day Christmas holiday break, the Lightning rang up three goals on eight power plays and successfully killed off all three times they were shorthanded.
"It's huge. For me personally it was almost like a reset button. You go and get your rest then come back and it's like a new season. We have to look at it that way. We can't dwell on the past. We need to move on and get better and today was a good start." - Steven Stamkos
The Lightning opened the scoring at 5:34 of the first on a goal from Mike Blunden, getting assists from Andrej Sustr and Erik Condra.
Just over four minutes later, Columbus tied the game at 9:44, with Rene Bourque scoring on assists from Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen.
The opening period ended with the teams tied at one.
The Blue Jackets took the lead at 3:07 of a penalty-plagued second period on a goal that was reviewed but upheld by Scott Hartnell with assists being credited to Alexander Wennberg and Dalton Prout.
Things changed thanks to a bizarre three second sequence that saw Columbus pick up a Cross Checking minor on Prout at 4:56, followed by two different Delay of Games (Face Off on Gregory Campbell and Over-the-Glass on Jack Johnson) assessed at 4:59.
With the 5-on-3 in effect, Steven Stamkos scored at 6:21, getting helpers from Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Marchessault.
Stamkos scored again 5-on-3 just 32 seconds later, again getting assists from Marchessault and Kucherov. They were unable to convert on the remaining 1:28 of 5-on-4 but they had done plenty of damage.
"I think a lot of us mentioned it this morning how special teams are going to be big today. That's a perfect example of what it can do to a hockey game if you execute. We didn't take (the power plays) for granted, we bared down on them." - Stamkos
More penalties were spread around at 9:29. Johansen of Columbus got five for Fighting. His dance partner Vladislav Namestnikov got the coinciding five for Fighting for Tampa Bay. Alex Killorn got two for Roughing. And it all began Hartnell took a five-minute major for Charging and a 10-minute Game Misconduct.
By the end of the night, the Lightning had five penalties for 13 minutes while the Blue Jackets racked up 32 minutes on nine infractions.
The Lightning got their third power play goal at 14:17, with Nikita Nesterov scoring with help coming from Ryan Callahan and Stamkos.
The Lightning carried a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Their final tally came at 4:39 of the third, right after successfully killing off a final penalty (Killorn, two for Holding) when Jason Garrison broke in alone on Curtis McElhinney, replacing starter Joonas Korpisalo in net for Columbus, and scored with an assist from Blunden.
Korpisalo was pulled after giving up four goals on 18 shots, while McElhinney stopped one of seven in relief. On the other end, Ben Bishop started and went all the way, stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced.
The Lightning will continue the homestand when they host the Montreal Canadiens Monday night.
- This is the second of three meetings this season between Tampa Bay and the Blue Jackets, and the only one in Tampa. The Lightning won their previous match-up 2-1 in Columbus on December 14.
- The Lightning are now 9-2-0 all-time at home against the Blue Jackets.
- The Lightning are 5-4-0 versus the Metropolitan Division so far this season, with three of the four losses coming to the Washington Capitals.
- Marchessault has a six game points-scored streak, compiling three goals and four assists over that stretch.
- Kucherov has a five game streak of his own, with one goal and seven assists.
- The Lightning honored Jose Garcia as the 17th Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game. Garcia, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay. Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB) repairs hundreds of homes for low-income homeowners, veterans and seniors to ensure a safe home. As a result of Garcia's efforts, home modification services have been provided to 200 disabled veterans in the Tampa Bay area. Also, Garcia's charitable ways were recently recognized by the City of Tampa after coordinating Operation Reveille where RTTB repaired homes for 11 veteran homeowners in need. Garcia is a visionary that has worked diligently to improve and empower people, strengthen community participation and inspire movements for the common good. The impact that Garcia leaves is one of a strong and charismatic leader who is able to accomplish the vision that everyone deserves a safe and healthy home. The legacy that Garcia hopes to leave behind is to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable groups in our community. Garcia becomes the 196th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $9.95 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.