More than six hours after the puck dropped to open the first round of the 2020 NHL Playoffs, Brayden Point’s goal in the fifth overtime provided a 3-2 win for the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game went so long that the NHL had to postpone the Carolina Hurricanes/Boston Bruins game that was set to follow it.
With the win, the Lightning take a 1-0 series lead as they look to avenge the first round sweep from last season. Andrei Vasilevskiy set a club record by stopping 61 of 63 shots. It was a game for the ages.
The Lightning came out flying to open the game. The top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat took the Blue Jackets to the shed with their aggression. The remaining lines from Tampa Bay tried to replicate that aggression and, for the most part, succeeded.
Unfortunately, Tampa Bay threw all that good work away with a careless penalty by Alex Killorn. Columbus capitalized on the ensuing power-play with a double deflection.
Paging Ryan McDonagh. Paging Ryan McDonagh. Will you please remember how to play hockey. This entire sequence is on McDonagh due to rushing a clearing attempt when he had no one pressuring him. He then followed it up by over-committing high in the slot when he had forward support and allowing Pierre-Luc Dubois to glide past him right as Alexander Texier’s shot came toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. At no point did McDonagh even look behind him to locate Dubois.
Regardless, a goal like this in last year’s playoffs would’ve shook Tampa Bay, but this time around the Lightning continued their dogged pursuit of the puck. The top line, again, led the way by pinning the Jackets in their own end for a prolonged stretch. Eventually, the Lightning’s other lines started to follow suit and Columbus started to scramble a little. Once the top line came back out their aggression and cycle game came through.
Folks, since the round robin started the top line has been Tampa Bay’s best and it has not been particularly close. Again, they set the example from the rest of Tampa Bay’s forward corps.
The remainder of the period saw the Lightning dictate the pace and push Columbus back repeatedly, but the Jackets had some chances. Their best came on a partial breakaway from Boone Jenner that Vasilevskiy thwarted.
Overall, the Lightning controlled 67% of the shot attempts (23-11), won the quality battle at 63%, generated more scoring chances (10-6), and edged out the lead in high danger chances (3-2). All in all, this was a good period from the Lightning that should have helped ease a lot of the anxiety Lightning fans had entering tonight’s game.
The second saw Tampa Bay relinquish some of the pressure they established in the first and Columbus took advantage of it. Compared to the first period, the Blue Jackets began to maintain zone pressure with their relentless forecheck. Columbus managed to get the first dangerous chance of the game after a wonky bounce caught Vasilevskiy off guard.
The collision afterward cut Vasilevskiy in the mouth and there was a short timeout for him to be tended to. The next few minutes saw both teams trade control, with neither really gaining an edge over the other. There were some penalties called during this period that helped Columbus gain some momentum, but the Lightning penalty kill stood tall on repeated opportunities. The power-play that Tampa Bay had generated some chances, but nothing that got past Korpisalo.
As the period waned, Columbus began to control play more and more. The Lightning were caught on a few long shifts and fatigue began to show in some circumstances. And, as usually happens with the Blue Jackets, they get another fortunate goal from a shot that should have been a routine stop.
As much as folks want to jump on Vasilevskiy for this goal, and to an extent they should, Erik Cernak playing so passive here instead of making Oliver Bjorkstrand work for the puck is baffling here. McDonagh makes a great play to poke the puck away from DuBois, but Cernak’s passivity allows this shot to happen. Additionally, Liam Foudy gliding past Vasilevskiy just as the shot is fired probably had a lot to do with this shot going in. Anthony Cirelli was shadowing him, but there was just way too much puck watching on this sequence.
Overall, Tampa Bay trailed in the shot attempt battle of the period at 48% (16-17), won the quality battle at 67%, held an edge on scoring chances 7-6, and controlled the high danger chances 3-0. The Bjorkstrand goal is frustrating, but the Lightning played a solid second period. It was not as strong as their first, but all it took was one shift of a slightly more passive approach for something to go wrong.
We should expect the Lightning to come out angry and aggressive to prove they’re the better, but we’ll see what happens.
Want to know how to respond?
That is how a team of Tampa Bay’s caliber is expected to respond. Only 23 seconds in and they drive the net force chaos and get some puck luck to go their way as Korpisalo ends up scoring on himself. Yanni Gourde’s disruption in front of the net makes this possible and it is something the rest of the team needs to start doing—cause chaos.
Chaos was the mantra of the Lightning for the first half of the third period. Gourde and Barclay Goodrow embodied this philosophy as they punished any Columbus skater with the puck. Both players also were among the best defensive forwards for the Lightning as well, something that Tampa Bay needs more attention to from their forward corps.
The third period saw Tampa dictate everything for the first 10 minutes. It wasn’t until the midway point where Columbus managed to generate any kind of consistent pressure in the offensive zone. However, as the second half of the period waned the Jackets started to control more and more of the pace. Then the Lightning started taking more bad penalties. A holding call on Kevin Shattenkirk, another too many men call with less than five minutes left in regulation.
Tampa Bay didn’t make it easy on themselves, but they managed to kill the penalties and survive the Jackets late push to push Game One to overtime.
Columbus dictated the first half of the period, whereas Tampa Bay dictated the back half of it. The Jackets didn’t generate anything super dangerous during the period, but their control in Tampa Bay’s zone did put a fair amount of pressure on Vasilevskiy. Once the Lightning weathered that storm they pushed back with aplomb. It felt like a shooting gallery out there at times, but Korpisalo stood tall through all of it thwart any chance of goal happening.
One of Tampa Bay’s best chances came when Alex Killorn got free in close, but his shot was pushed aside by Korpisalo. Tampa Bay’s attack continued to shellack the Jackets, but, time after time, the Jackets and Korpisalo held their ground. As annoying as it is, Columbus is a sound structured team with fantastic stick discipline and it was on display perfectly in this period. Everytime the Lightning fired a puck on net it was contested in some capacity. That’s how disciplined these Jackets are.
As the period waned, some fireworks began to blow as Gourde and Korpisalo got into a little scrum.
While it is understandable to be upset with Gourde for the whack at the loose puck, getting bent out of shape for Gourde literally being pushed by a Jackets defender is quintessential hockey stupidity. Gourde just stands there if he isn’t blatantly pushed on top of Korpisalo, but of course that is just what NHL defensemen do for some reason, and it is the most baffling thing I’ve seen.
Regardless, one overtime wasn’t enough to settle it. So off to a second!
Another do or die period, another 20 minutes of both teams trading chances and control. Columbus controlled the majority of the period, but when they faltered Tampa Bay came at them with a force. The best opportunity for either team came early in the period when Kucherov fired one wide of Korpisalo.
From an analytical perspective, this was an even period. Neither team controlled shot attempts with both registering 17 in the period. The Lightning controlled the quality battle at 60% after being throttled by the Blue Jackets for the first half of the period. Tampa Bay also led in scoring chances 5-2, and tied with Columbus in high danger chances at one a piece.
Korpisalo also set a Columbus franchise record for saves in a playoff game.
#CBJ Joonas Korpisalo has set a franchise record with 55 saves. Bobrovsky had 54 on 4/15/18 vs. Washington.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) August 11, 2020
After five periods, Tampa Bay has 59 shots on goal while Columbus has 44. This game has been ridiculous.
Oh, and the Lightning broke a franchise record too.
The @TBLightning's 57 shots are a franchise record for most in a game (regular season or playoffs).— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 11, 2020
The most in a regular-season game was 55 (Oct. 21, 2018 at CHI). The most in a playoff game was 46 (Game 1 of 2015 R1 and Game 6 of 2003 CQF). #NHLStats #StanelyCup pic.twitter.com/LsfXaoBXrW
All of our collective anxiety was expressed during this overtime. Again, Tampa Bay controlled shot attempts, scoring chances, shot quality, and high danger chances. But yet again Korpisalo and the Blue Jackets refused to die, even though they were getting repeatedly pinned inside their own zone.
Or Columbus doing this.
Some franchise history was also made during this period.
This is now the longest game in #GoBolts franchise history— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) August 11, 2020
Previous mark: Game 5 of 2003 East Semis vs Devils (11:12 into 3rd OT)
And the Lightning have inched up even more in the league’s history books.
At the same time, though, Vasilevskiy has also been fantastic in all of the overtime periods. All of the attention is, rightly, on Korpisalo, but Tampa Bay’s netminder has been great in the limited shots that have made it toward him.
The Flames and Stars started and finished an entire game while the Blue Jackets and Lightning have been in overtime.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 12, 2020
However, it’s time to go into a FOURTH OVERTIME.
Here, just have some tweets
Joonas Korpisalo just set a new NHL record with his 74th save, surpassing my @Sportsnet teammate Kelly Hrudey's single-game record of 73 from the Easter Epic in 1987.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) August 12, 2020
Every shot after 77 is basically extending the record.
Jones officially at 60:22 and counting. On the ice now.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) August 12, 2020
For the fifth time in NHL history, it's quintuple overtime— James Mirtle (@mirtle) August 12, 2020
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
This is now the 4th longest game in NHL history and the longest since the Keith Primeau 5OT game in 2000.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 12, 2020
Another win for the scoreboard crew pic.twitter.com/XxCzcGRNoC— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) August 12, 2020
Goals? *puts futuristic sunglasses down* Where we're going, we don't need . . . goals. https://t.co/2nF8VhjPKq— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) August 12, 2020
No player has played more in a single game than Seth Jones has tonight 63:55.... The previous mark was by Sergei Zubov who played 63:51 in 2003 for Dallas.— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) August 12, 2020
And then, magic happened everyone. ABSOLUTE MAGIC.
TAKE THAT FINNISH REINCARNATION OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!
BRAYDEN POINT BABY! IN QUINTUPLE OVERTIME! BRAYDEN POINNNNTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!
The team that deserved this win five periods ago got the win.— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) August 12, 2020
Of all the stats that are going to come out of this game, and many of them NHL records, the Columbus Blue Jackets blocked an incredible 62 shots tonight. 62!!!!!!!— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) August 12, 2020
How can you not love this Columbus team? And the organization? It’s easy to define a “winning culture” by having a gazillion stars. (Which, if you can, duh.)— Travis Yost (@travisyost) August 12, 2020
It’s much harder to get what they have here.
Easy, Columbus got shellacked for the entire game and were bailed out by an absolutely Herculean effort from Korpisalo. Speaking of Korpisalo, this game, even though it was a loss, should go into the Hall of Fame for how stellar he was for Columbus. They were not even close to the better team in this game and no matter how much folks want them to be they’re not.
The numbers for this game are so absurd there is really no point to talk about it. Just go look it up and stare at it in awe. Just absolutely absurd.
Let’s not do this again. Please.