Following their final two-day break of the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning came back from two, one-goal deficits to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime. Victor Hedman scored just ten seconds into the bonus period. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves to pick up the victory while Ondrej Palat, Mathieu Joseph and Alex Barre-Boulet scored. Eric Robinson scored twice and Mikhail Grigorenko added his third goal of the season for Columbus. Joonas Korpisalo started for the Blue Jackets and made 23 saves before leaving in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. Elvis Merzlikins made 7 saves on 8 shots in relief.
If NHL periods were only 15 minutes long, the Lightning would have played one of their best opening frames of the last month. They utterly dominated the stats in regards to possession and had a 1-0 lead as a result. Unfortunately, Columbus showed up in the last quarter of the period and turned things around by scoring twice in the final three minutes to head into the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The Bolts had the first power play of the game when Jack Roslovic was whistled for roughing. While they didn’t convert, they had two wonderful opportunities. First it was Ondrej Palat at the side of the goal, who whipped it just wide after Alex Barre-Boulet found him with a cross-crease pass. Then Ross Colton sent Yanni Gourde into a dangerous area in front of the goal, but Joonas Korpisalo stopped his shot with his right pad.
The Lightning did get on the board with their top line as Barre-Boulet just missed a shot from in close. The puck ricocheted out to the blue line, but Luke Schenn got to it before it left the zone, fed it down low, and Brayden Point dished it from behind the net to Palat who roofed a forehand over Korpisalo.
Ondrej Palat (Brayden Point)
So that was all the good stuff that happened in the period. Pretty much from the Palat goal forward, it was Columbus doing most of the damage. Their forecheck improved and the Lightning’s zone exits became a little sloppier. Columbus also found room in front of the net and it paid off.
The first goal, kind of a tough break. The Lightning lost a face-off and an ensuing shot from deep caromed off of the end boards. Vladisalv Gavrikov put a shot on net that deflected back out to Mikhail Grigorenko who whistled it past Vasilevskiy to tie the game.
Mikhail Grigorenko (Vladislav Gavrikov, Mikko Lehtonin)
With time winding down Columbus took the lead on a shot that Vasy would like to have back. Give Eric Robinson credit for winning the puck battle behind the Lightning net. After he spun away from Gourde, Robinson slid a for a forehand shot under the goalie. Gotta get that paddle down!
Eric Robinson (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi)
There must have been some pretty good coaching done during the intermission, because the Lightning came out with a lot of pressure early in the second period. Columbus didn’t manage their first shot attempt until roughly six-and-a-half minutes into the middle frame. In the meantime it was all offense for the Bolts as they piled up the shot attempts.
They eventually tied the game up on a nice transition play. Palat started it in his own zone with a long, cross-ice pass that Brayden Point corralled. He took it down the right side of the ice and waited, waited, waited, and waited some more before sliding a pass across the crease to Mathieu Joseph who tucked it into the net.
Mathieu Joseph (Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat)
Solid patience on the part of Point who forced the goaltender to commit to him before making the pass. The Blue Jackets picked up their first shot shortly after the goal, but it led to a similar play. Anthony Cirelli wasn’t able to tip home the pass from Tyler Johnson, mainly because Grigorenko was tackling him at the time.
The power play was uneventful in the sense there were no goals. The same went for the Blue Jackets power play with Barclay Goodrow in the box. Unlike in the first period, Tampa Bay didn’t back off, and while Columbus did muster a few chances, they really didn’t have sustained time in the Lightning zone.
The Bolts kept generating chances with Gourde getting stopped on a semi-breakaway and Johnson missing the net on a brilliant feed from Cirelli from behind the net. While Tampa was getting some chances, their targeting computers were a bit off as they sent ten shots wide of Korpisalo in the period.
Vasilevskiy was up to par on the one really good chance for Columbus. Mikhail Sergachev turned the puck over in his own zone which led to a two-on-one for the Blue Jackets. Sergy hustled back and forced Nathan Gerbe to shoot a little sooner than he wanted to and Vasilevskiy easily made the save.
That was fast. You could expect Columbus to come out with a little push in the third after their struggles in the second, and they retook the lead less than a minute into the period. Again, the puck just kind of bounced their way.
Erik Cernak was in the right position to block a shot from Max Domi, which he did. The puck found it’s way to Eric Robinson’s stick and he put a shot in on the far post. Vasilevskiy never really was able to reset after the initial shot from Domi.
Eric Robinson (Max Domi, Oliver Bjorkstrand)
All of the fortunate bounces that went the Blue Jackets way were taken away shortly after. With Grigorenko in the box after committing a penalty in the offensive zone (Torts will love that), Korpisalo appeared to injure himself sliding across the crease to take away a possible attempt from Point who was stationed right in front of him.
As the puck was worked around by the Lightning, Korpisalo never made his way back to his feet, as he kind of slid around on his pads. The puck made its way over to Barre-Boulet at the right circle and he fired it into the net before Korpisalo could make it over to cover. The Columbus goaltender immediately left the ice and headed down the tunnel. Elvis Merzlikins replaced him in net.
Alex Barre-Boulet (Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman)
He was greeted with a flurry of shot attempts from the Lightning who almost immediately went back on the power play. While the Bolts didn’t score with the extra skater, it wasn’t from a lack of attempts. They buzzed around the zone for pretty much the entire two minutes, and looked like they did back when they were the top unit in the league.
Things kind of settled down after that and the action ebbed and flowed on the ice. Columbus played, by far, their best period of the game while the Lightning pushed for the go-ahead goal without surrendering too much defensively (sure there was a turnover by David Savard that led to an odd-man rush and Vasy just flat out gave the puck to a Columbus player in the slot, but that’s par for the course).
That being said, it wasn’t a great period at even strength for the Lightning as the Blue Jackets outshot them (attempts wise) 17-11 and outchanced them 11-8. The Lightning had 5 shots on goal in 15:53 of 5v5 play and 4 in just 2:39 of power play time.
At 3v3, i.e. overtime, they had one shot. It was all they needed.
Victor Hedman (Brayden Point)
Victor Hedman from the slot off of a feed from Brayden Point. That’s the game. With the win they pick up a much needed two points to stay in the race for first place in the Central.