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Morning After Thoughts: 422 Days Later

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It took more than a year, but the Lightning finally put the Blue Jackets to rest

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning did it. They threw the monkey off their back and beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’re on to the second round.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was their worst game of the series

Without a doubt, that was the Lightning’s worst performance of the series. They got crushed in possession. They got crushed in expected goals. They took an inordinate amount of stupid penalties forcing them to spend a lot of time killing them instead of attacking Columbus’ net. The first period was fine, but not great. But in the second period, they started to get really crushed with Columbus turning around their own tactics on them.

But that all changed in the latter part of the third period. After falling behind 4-2 and killing a penalty due to a longshot attempt at challenging Columbus’ fourth goal for goaltender interference they got back on their horse. Kevin Shattenkirk gave fans what appeared to be False Hope with a huge clapper of a shot that beat Joonas Korpisalo to make it 4-3. False Hope turned to reality when a lucky bounce off of Anthony Cirelli’s skate tied the game up.

Once they got into overtime, you could tell the Lightning had decided during the intermission that they were lucky to be in the game and they needed to finish it off. They absolutely dominated the 5:12 of overtime only allowing Columbus one shot attempt. Then Brayden Point finished it off to complete the series.

Fitting that it ended the way it began

The series started with the Lightning playing the longest game in franchise history and the fourth longest game in NHL history. Five overtimes. FIVE! It was insane. It went on forever. It was basically two and a half games played all in one day. It went so long that it forced the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes game to be postponed to the next day.

Somehow, it just seems fitting that the Lightning finished the series the way that they started it. With an overtime win.

422 Days, but who’s counting?

During his press conference, Jon Cooper was asked about if the team had learned from last year. Cooper’s responded to that question in his best deadpan with “Well, we’ve had 422 days to think about it. But who’s counting?” Who’s counting indeed? Well, no more need to count because the team got that stink out of their nostrils, the monkey off their back. They beat the Blue Jackets and get to move on.

The Big Boys Stepped Up

Dating back to Game Four and up until the latter portion of the third period, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov had been bottled by the Columbus defense. But they came up big when the team needed it. Point and Kucherov contributed both assists on Kevin Shattenkirk and Anthony Cirelli’s goals. Then they were the ones to finish it with Kucherov delivering a no-look pass to the front for Point to deke and send top shelf on the backhand.

Victor Hedman didn’t get on the score sheet this game, but he was also a big factor down the stretch of the game. He was jumping into the play and playing with a lot of drive and energy. You could tell he wanted it, you could see it in his eyes. He was willing to do whatever it took to succeed.

That was Rick Peckham’s Last Call

After the joy of winning the game and series started to subside, the sadness of knowing I had just heard Rick Peckham’s last call for the Lightning set in. It is a happy sadness though, as he will be going into a well deserved retirement. This isn’t quite the way I wanted to see his last game happen, being called remotely from an empty Amalie Arena.

It was at least something. It would have been more tragic if the season had been canceled altogether or if the local broadcasts didn’t get the round robin and first round games. If that had happened, then we would have heard his Last Call without having realized it for months.

I’m sure Rick would have loved for his last broadcast to have been in a packed Amalie Arena with the fans cheering a win. That would have been ideal, but with the conditions of the world today, we had to take what we could get for his last call.

For years, Rick has been the voice of the Lightning. One of the most recognizable sounds of Lightning hockey was his voice. His professionalism, his rhythm, his voice will not be forgotten and will always be cherished by Lightning fans.

I look forward to welcoming his replacement in, whoever that may end up being for 2020-21.

Happy retirement, Rick. Enjoy your time and congratulations on the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.