The Tampa Bay Lightning offense, sparked by the Yanni Gourde line, snapped out of their doldrums with a six-goal effort as they snapped their two-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gourde recorded four assists while linemates Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman each had a goal and an assist. Ryan McDonagh scored twice while Steven Stamkos and Ross Colton also found the back of the net.
Erik Cernak returned to action after missing seven games, but Stamkos left in the third with an undisclosed ailment and didn’t return to action. So there was good news and bad news. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the victory with 32 saves, including several highlight ones. Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, Michael Del Zotto, and Zach Werenski were the goal scorers for Columbus.
Let’s sum up the first period with the Lightning’s Heat Map at 5v5
Looks like they took the “go to the net and good things happen” advice to heart.
It was obvious early in the game that the Blue Jackets were missing the presence of big shot-blocker David Savard on the ice as the Lightning had free reign in front of the net. They took advantage of it as well be scoring three times in the first 5:41 of the period, all on goals that came from in close.
It was the Yanni Gourde line that kicked off the scoring a minute in as Barclay Goodrow started the play with a nice little chip out of his own zone. Gourde picked up the puck and busted into the zone. He fed the puck over to Blake Coleman who didn’t miss the one-timer.
Steven Stamkos scored the second goal on the power play. It wasn’t a blast from the circle, rather a tricky little wrister that snuck in under Joonas Korpisalo’s blocker. Barclay Goodrow completed the trifecta of offense when he beat Patrick Laine to a loose puck in front of the net and banged it home. Gourde set it up with a nice play in front of Korpisalo.
Columbus replaced Korpisalo with Elvis Merzlikins and that seem to spark the Blue Jackets a bit. The Lightning slid back into some bad habits (bad clearing attempts and turnovers in the neutral zone) and Columbus repeatedly tested Andrei Vasilevskiy. He made a variety of saves, with the best being a full extension, right pad stop on Alex Texier. The only person to beat him was Stamkos’ old draft buddy, Michael Del Zotto. The veteran defenseman wired a wrister past Vasy to make things a little interesting.
With the rest of the team kind of fumbling around, it was the Gourde line that restored order and the three-goal lead. With the clock ticking to zero he charged the Columbus net and threw a puck on net. It was stopped. Merzlikins stopped the follow up, but Ryan McDonagh offered a third attempt and that one was not stopped. The puck dribbled over the goal line with just 0.5 seconds left on the clock.
Ross Colton gave it all to to score the fifth goal. Patrick Maroon knocked a pass down in his own zone and fed it to Tyler Johnson who flew down the ice like it was 2015. He fed it over to Colton who directed it past Merzlikins before crashing into the boards shoulder first. He was shaken up a little, but returned to the game.
The rest of the period had a bit of a “going through the motions” feel to it. The Lightning were much better in their own zone compared to the first period and still manged to generate some chances. When Columbus did have a look at the net, Vasilevskiy was there to shut it down.
Jack Roslovic continued making the case that he was the best player in the blockbuster Patrick Laine/Pierre-Luc Dubois trade as he sniped one past Vasilevskiy with less than three minutes to go.
The Gourde line responded as Goodrow won a puck battle behind the net and Gourde fed the puck to Ryan McDonagh. The rugged defenseman unleashed a big shot and powered it past Merzlikins. The refs admired the play so much they took some time to review it. McDonagh received their approval as they deemed it a good goal (they were reviewing for a high-stick).
The Lightning started the period with the tail end of their power play (due to Columbus’ failed challenge on the McDonagh goal). They didn’t score, but it did provide a little momentum to the period. Following the power play, Brayden Point gave the majority of Lightning fans able to view the game a slight heart attack as he crashed face first into the boards. He popped up and seemed no worse for wear.
After Alex Texier was sent off for a slash Coach Cooper rewarded some of the players having a good game by icing a power play unit of Pat Maroon, Tyler Johnson, Anthony Cirelli, Ryan McDonagh, and Yanni Gourde on the power play. Despite extended zone time the newly constituted unit couldn’t put the puck home.
Missing from either unit that went on the ice during the power play was Steven Stamkos. He left the ice following a shift early in the period and didn’t return to the game. There was no apparent hit or action that caused an injury. Hopefully, it’s something minor and he isn’t out for a long time.
Since the teams were scoring with a 1980’s-like abandon, Stefan Matteau decided to add a rock em, sock em style hit from that decade as well. He left his feet to deliver a huge, high hit on Mikhail Sergachev behind the Lightning net.
Cal Foote defended the honor of his defensive partner and dropped the gloves against Matteau. For his gallantry Foote was assessed an instigator and misconduct along with his fighting penalty. Fourteen seconds into the penalty kill, Blake Coleman had his dental work checked by Jack Roslovic’s stick. Interesting few minutes.
Zach Werenski cut the lead to three as he got behind Hedman and tucked the puck past under Vasilevskiy’s arm. The Lightning seemed content to bleed the clock out and paid for it as Max Domi made it a two-goal game with under a minute to go.
Coach Cooper decided to shut down any hope of a comeback as he sent out the Gourde line to close it out. They got the puck out of the zone and down the ice. A little too much generosity prevented them from scoring into an empty net, but they took the clock down to zero and the Lightning left with the victory.
Blake Coleman (Yanni Gourde, Barclay Goodrow) 1-0 Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat) Power Play 2-0 Tampa Bay
Barclay Goodrow (Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman) 3-0 Tampa Bay
Ryan McDonagh (Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman) 4-1 Tampa Bay
Ross Colton (Tyler Johnson, Patrick Maroon) 5-1 Tampa Bay
Ryan McDonagh (Yanni Gourde, Barclay Goodrow) 6-2 Tampa Bay
Michael Del Zotto (Jack Roslovic, Elvis Merzlikins 3-1 Tampa Bay
Jack Roslovic (Mikhail Grigorenko, Cam Atkinson) 5-2 Tampa Bay
Zach Werenski (Alex Texier, Jack Roslovic) 6-3 Tampa Bay
Max Domi (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Dean Kukan) 6-4 Tampa Bay