Coming off of an overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning entered the game 5-1-1 through seven games and the Blue Jackets came in with a 5-1-0 record in six games. The Blue Jackets also entered the game on a four-game win streak. Despite getting outshot 43-21, the Lightning prevailed over the Blue Jackets 2-0 to snap Columbus’ win streak.
The only lineup change for the Lightning was Gabriel Dumont entering in place of Cedric Paquette. Jon Cooper continued with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, a formation he has run since the third game in the season. Andrej Sustr remained in the lineup for a second straight game as the seventh defensemen. To start the game, the Lightning’s lines were as follows:
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson
Chris Kunitz - Gabriel Dumont - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
With the 11/7 line-up, the defensive pairs were in flux throughout the night as Rick Bowness changed up depending on situations and match-ups, as well as how well each defender was playing.
The most common players to take shifts with Killorn and Johnson have been Stamkos, Kucherov, and Point. However, just about every other winger in the line-up has taken a shift on that line at some point over the past five games. Jon Cooper has a lot of options to slide in there depending on whether he’s looking for a shut down shift with someone like Callahan or Kunitz or Palat, or is looking for an offensive spark with someone else off the first or second line.
The beginning of the first period started out with great pace. The Lightning controlled the game for a lot of the first seven minutes until the first commercial break. Each line had good shifts with sustained offensive pressure. The handful of shots that the Lightning gave up mostly came off the rush, which has been a problem at times through the start of the season.
One scary moment came when a couple players crashed to the ice and slid into Hedman, taking him off his feet. He was very slow getting up and didn’t get to the bench until the play had started down at the other end. When he did, he was slow in gliding to the bench. Thankfully Hedman came back out after a few shifts off.
After the first commercial break, the Blue Jackets put some sustained pressure on the Lightning. The Dumont line got hemmed in for a little bit with an icing call, but eventually worked the puck down to the other end of the ice. The line was aggressive in forechecking and getting on puck carriers quickly to prevent a clean break out. As the Blue Jackets started a successful breakout, Callahan came into the corner for a hit. David Savard did not appreciate the hit and cross checked Callahan right in front of the referee to give the Lightning the first power play of the game.
The first power play unit came out and got some good movement going. Killorn nearly had a goal that was broken up by a Blue Jackets defensemen checking him from behind. The first unit created shots on goal, but couldn’t get it past Sergei Bobrovsky. The second unit came out with around 30 seconds left and couldn’t get set up long enough to generate anything on the power play.
Coming out of the second commercial break of the period, the Point line came out flying. Gourde picked up a pass from Palat off the boards and took a shot while falling down. Point made it off the boards quickly to get to the puck first and was stopped by a cat-like move from Bobrovsky.
The Lightning finally broke through with just over two minutes to go in the first period. The Stamkov line entered the zone with their usual skill, moving the puck around to create confusion among the defense. The puck got worked back to Sergachev at the left point.
Sergachev moved towards the center, wound up and blasted a puck at the net. With Stamkos flashing past the front of the net to take away Bobrovsky’s eyes, the puck found the twine for Sergachev’s first career NHL goal to put the Lightning up 1-0. The assists on the goal were awarded to Kucherov and Namestnikov.
While the Stamkov line continued to look like themselves, the fourth line was particularly impressive throughout the first period. While they didn’t have a lot of dangerous chances, they were responsible with the puck and getting the puck at the net. When they lost the puck, they were aggressive and did a good job of disrupting the break-out plays. With all four lines playing well, except for Kucherov, the forwards even strength ice time ranged from 4:22 to 5:19. Kucherov played 6:38 at even strength during the first period.
The first period finished out with Chris Kunitz taking a slashing call just before the horn blew, which put the Lightning on the penalty kill for the start of the second period.
The Lightning started the second period on the penalty kill with Kunitz in the box for slashing at the end of the first. Artemi Panarin had the best chance on the power play for the Blue Jackets. Vasilevskiy was able to slide over and stop Panarin in close. The rest of the penalty kill went pretty well for the Lightning with a couple of good clears, limiting Blue Jackets’ chances.
The Blue Jackets took advantage of the momentum the power play gave them to put pressure on the Lightning for several shifts after the power play, where the Lightning had trouble clearing the zone. The Lightning turned the tables on them with the Dumont line and then the Point line. These lines put on a show in the offensive zone to hem in the Blue Jackets and wear them out, utilizing the short change to keep the puck in the zone while changing out players.
Gourde found the puck in the slot and was all alone in front of Bobrovsky. Gourde sized him up and took a shot for the far side. Bobrovsky got a tiny piece of the puck and then the goal post kept it out of the net.
While Gourde has yet to score a goal this season, with the way that he has been playing up to this point in the game, it feels like it’s going to come for him soon.
The Blue Jackets got another change on the power play with just under eight minutes to go in the period. It was a bit of a weird call with Vasilevskiy getting his stick into a Blue Jacket’s feet around the net. The referees decided to call the penalty on Hedman though forcing him to the box instead of allowing the Lightning to choose a player to put in the box. Despite missing their top defenseman from the penalty kill, the Lightning were excellent and didn’t allow the Blue Jackets to score.
The Lightning broke through with a second goal from the Stamkov line. Several great plays by the Lightning led to the Stamkov line making their way into the zone with Hedman going one-on-two down the right wing side. With little room to take a shot, he passed it off to Kucherov coming up behind him. Seeing Sergachev charging into the zone off the bench, Kucherov put it right on his stick. Sergachev continued into the high slot and snapped the puck past Bobrovsky for his second goal of the game. The assists went to Kucherov and Stamkos.
The Lightning were lucky to get out of the second period still up 2-0 on the Blue Jackets. After the Lightning outshot them 13-10 in the first period, the Blue Jackets turned the tables and outshot the Lightning 18-5 in the second period to take a 28-18 advantage in shots on goal.
With the Lightning giving up a lot of shots in the second period, it was important for them to come out strong to start the third period. Kucherov was able to draw a penalty a minute and a half into the period as he was tripped up along the wall. Unfortunately, the Lightning didn’t generate much on the power play and only had one shot on goal.
The Lightning struggled to get much momentum going and again gave up shots to the Blue Jackets, though not at as swift a pace as they did in the second period. Ryan Callahan gave the Blue Jackets another chance on the power play when he was called for tripping.
The Lightning did a good job early with Vasilevskiy making a key stop. Palat contributed to a short handed chance for Johnson by hounding the Blue Jackets into their own zone. Johnson got the puck in the slot but ripped it high and off the glass. The Lightning continued their strong penalty kill play after that and kept the Blue Jackets off the scoreboard.
The Blue Jackets continued their domination from the second period and the Lightning had very little offensive zone time. Their aggressive rushing and puck battles along the board provided them many chances often with men at the front of the net. Vasilevskiy somehow battled through the traffic and kept the puck out of the net.
With two minutes to go in the third period, and trailing by two goals, Bobrovsky headed to the bench for the extra attacker as the Blue Jackets made their way up the ice with the puck. The Blue Jackets put on a flurry of action over the last two minutes but only managed two shots on goal with the extra attacker.
The Lightning got one last clear and the time wound down to zero giving Andrei Vasilevskiy his first shutout of the season.
The first period for the Lightning looked pretty good. All four lines were buzzing and generating good offensive zone time. Most of the Blue Jackets chances were coming off of rushes and occasional sustained offensive zone pressures. The second period on though was all Blue Jackets as far as control of the puck and shots on goal. After generating 13 shots on goal in the first period, the Lightning only got eight more on goal over the second and third period.
The Blue Jackets on the other hand added another 33 shots on goal from the second period on. Vasilevskiy earned the win for the Lightning and got his first shutout of the season in an impressive performance from the young netminder.
Sergachev showed some of what the Lightning were looking for from him when they traded Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens for him. This time, he was set-up for a couple of great shots that beat Bobrovsky cleanly. The first one was helped with Stamkos giving him a moving screen in front. The second one was an absolute laser to find the back of the net.
Kucherov’s goal-scoring streak to start the season ended with him not finding the back of the net in the eighth game of the season. However, he and Stamkos continue their point streaks with Kucherov getting two primary assists and Stamkos picking up a secondary assist on Sergachev’s second goal.