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Lightning Round: The offsides god was with us

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Tampa Bay Lightning challenged an early goal and increased their lead in the series, for a change.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it’s COVID eating up my life, or perhaps it’s the weird twilight zone feeling of the year, but it feels like the Tampa Bay Lightning have only won three meaningful games this year: these three games against Columbus. Putting to rest the embarrassment of last year’s playoffs feels more than good — it feels like VINDICATION. They obviously haven’t won the series yet, but the Lightning have won three more games than they did last playoffs, and my heart is almost healed.

How are you guys feeling? Better yet? Or only if we take the series? I understand.

The deciding factor in yesterday’s game has to be the first, disallowed goal. This kind of offside call lurks in Tampa’s past too, so I fully understand the bitterness of Columbus when they decry it. HOWEVER, Jonathan Drouin was totally onside, and Oliver Bjorkstrand was not.

THREE THINGS: DISALLOWED GOAL CREATES BUZZKILL, OFFENSE CAN’T FIND FURTHER SPARK [First Ohio Battery]

40 seconds after an offsides call was barely missed, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his third goal of the 2020 playoffs to put the Blue Jackets up 1-0 early. This would have been a huge dagger to the Lightning who have scored the first goal of the game for the past two contests.

But Jon Cooper and his staff just had to tattle, and the goal was wiped off the board, leading the way to Tampa Bay getting the first strike the following period. Whether anyone will admit it or not, the disallowed goal was a big buzzkill and set the pace for the evening.

On the negative side, Mikhail Sergachev met the boards due to a dubious hit from Nick Foligno.

Here’s a look at the hit.

No penalty was called on the hit, but perhaps we’ll hear something about it from Player Safety later today.

Earlier today, our small panel of experts at Raw Charge discussed the Question of the Week: Who has surprised you so far? [Raw Charge]

During the first game that lasted forever, the Lightning were expected to score 7.03 goals in all situations compared to 3.57 allowed. That game ended 3-2 in the Lightning’s favor. In game two, the Lightning were expected to score 2.39 goals while allowing 2.04 and ended up in a 3-1 defeat. The third game though, finally felt like Korpisalo was more of the average goaltender he had been for most of 2019-20. The Lightning were expected to score 3.36 goals and allow 2.1 in all situations, and pulled out a 3-2 victory.

So, um, maybe we can put Gary Bettman in charge of the Center for Disease Control? NHL reports third straight week of zero positive COVID-19 tests [NHL.com]

The league reported 43 positive tests during Phase 2 (small group workouts at team facilities) of the Return To Play and two positive tests during Phase 3 (training camp). There have been no positive tests reported for the NHL since the middle of July. The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs are currently in the First Round and continue on Monday.

Eyyyyy, he did it! Highlight: Barclay Goodrow scores his first goal as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning [Raw Charge]

Here are a few more recaps of yesterday’s game. I have excerpted an interesting insight from each one.

Lightning hold on to take commanding 3-1 series lead on Blue Jackets [NBC]

For the Lightning, this game was all about the trio of Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, and Yanni Gourde.

That line was their best one way all day and seemed to be the only line that was able to push the pace. They scored both of Tampa Bay’s goals during a five-minute stretch early in the second period and completely shut down the Blue Jackets offense when they were on the ice. When that unit was on the ice the Lightning attempted 14 of the 19 total shot attempts, outscored Columbus 2-0, and dominated the scoring chances.

Lightning take control of series with 2-1 win over Blue Jackets [Raw Charge]

It’s interesting that Columbus fired most of their shots from the edge of the left circle, but the main area where they’ve been dangerous (the middle of the ice) they were largely absent. That’s a testament to the Lightning’s defensive system forcing the Blue Jackets out of that area and allowing Vasilevskiy to see more shots.

Speaking of that, Tampa Bay’s adjustment in allowing Vasilevskiy to see more shots should’ve been done sooner. He’s one of the most technically sound and athletic goaltenders in the league, stop making his life more difficult. He’s always struggled with shots through traffic, so, this adjustment should only help him.

Lightning follow familiar formula to 2-1 victory in Game 4 [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Even in the loss, Korpisalo continues to be strong in goal for the Blue Jackets. Although he only faced 22 shots on goal on Monday, he came up with some big stops, including five on a late second period power play chance for the Bolts.

What do you think happens in game 5?