The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday night.
The Lightning opened with a first period that might have been their worst 20:00 this season. In spite of that, they managed to keep themselves out of a huge hole and were able to give the appearance of being in the thick of things, although they were outplayed in every facet of the game by a Blue Jackets team that is very good.
“We were just rotten, that’s it from start to finish. I don’t even know how else to put it. We play 82 games, and I think we just chalk that one up to a stinker. We got taught a lesson from a team who worked way harder than us. We wanted to skill the game and not get in anybody’s way and that’s what happens. I know it was 3-3, but the right team won the hockey game. I give our guys credit, they fought back, but we just made way too many mistakes.” - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
Alexander Wennberg put Columbus on top at 3:46 of the first thanks to one of many sloppy clearing attempts by the Lightning throughout the night. Brandon Saad and Jack Johnson pitched in with assists.
The Blue Jackets came into this game with the highest rated power play in the league and they doubled the lead at 8:35 with the man advantage. This time it was Nick Foligno scoring on assists from Cam Atkinson and Zach Werenski. The play was reviewed for a possible kick-in but was upheld.
At this point, Columbus had scored twice on Lightning netminder Ben Bishop on their first three shots. Meanwhile at the other end of the ice, Tampa Bay wouldn’t record their first attempt on Sergei Bobrovsky until 10:05.
The period ended with Columbus up 2-0.
The Lightning halved the lead at 8:33 when Tyler Johnson skated behind the net and was able to thread a pass through the crease to Nikita Kucherov, who scored his 11th goal of the season. Ondrej Palat picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Seemingly right back in it, the Lightning were back down by two again just 29 seconds later when Josh Anderson, assisted by Scot Hartnell, took advantage of poor puck handling to score.
Still, at least the Lightning showed signs of life as the second wound down. They’d draw within one goal again at 18:28 when Jason Garrison chased the rebound from his own shot and crashed the net to score his first of the season. Valtteri Filppula and Luke Witkowski offered assistance.
The Lightning were down 3-2 heading into the third.
They actually tied the game at 3:37 when Palat scored on a delayed penalty, getting helpers from Kucherov and Victor Hedman.
Less than a minute later at 4:34 with a four-on-four scenario, Saad scored what would be the eventual game winner. Wennberg had the lone assist.
Tampa Bay, who came in with a not-so-shabby third-best in the league power play of their own, didn’t see their first, and only, man advantage until 9:16 of the third. Not only did they fail to convert, but Columbus picked up an insurance marker at 11:13 when Hedman turned it over right in front of Bishop and Atkinson scored shorthanded and unassisted.
“Yeah it just surprised me. You’ve got to come up with a big save there. We battled back and I’ll take the blame for this one.” - Bishop
“Our goalies have been our best players to start the season, so it’s definitely not even close to being on him. We’ve got to play better in front of him.” - Garrison
Cooper pulled Bishop for an extra attacker with just under five minutes remaining, but it yielded nothing.
Having split the two-game homestand, the Lightning will now head out for three games on the road, beginning on Sunday at Boston.