Game 14 recap: Tampa Bay Lightning blitz Columbus Blue Jackets early, hang on for 7-4 win
The Tampa Bay Lightning jumped on the undermanned Columbus Blue Jackets early, but had to fight to hold on for a 7-4 final on night one of a road back-to-back.
The Blue Jackets looked every bit the tired and depleted team early, as the Lightning set up camp in the Columbus end early and kept the puck there for long stretches, taking 9 of the first 10 shots in the game.
J.T. Brown finally broke through and onto the scoresheet with this first goal of the season off a rebound of his own deflection in the slot, beating Anton Forsberg for a 1-0 Tampa Bay Lead. Cedric Paquette followed that up with his third NHL goal (and third in the past two games) with an assist to Jonathan Drouin for a 2-0 lead.
That led Columbus head coach Todd Richards to use his timeout with 13:53 still remaining in the first period.
The first power play of the night went to the Lightning with 8:37 left in the 1st as Dalton Prout went off for a trip giving the Bolts an opportunity to bury the Blue Jackets early. Anton Stralman converted on the rebound of a Steven Stamkos one-timer to put the Lightning ahead 3-0 with over 6 minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The rout was on when Brian Boyle buried a feet in the slot from Brenden Morrow behind the net after J.T. Brown beat the Columbus defense wide and carried the puck in deep, spilling into the boards.
Nikita Kucherov missed a penalty shot attempt with the 'Forsberg move' which he uses perhaps a bit too often, or else the game would have been 5-0 in the first period.
The Blue Jackets came out in the second period a bit more assertively and went on the power play just three minutes in after an offensive-zone holding penalty on Vlad Namestnikov. Scott Hartnell converted on a deflection of a John Wisniewski shot for his third goal in the last two games, drawing Columbus within 3 goals as the puck trickled past Nabokov.
The Lightning would snuff out any hope for a comeback, though, with an answer goal off the stick of Valtteri Filppula. Callahan got credit for the goal after the puck appeared to get lost in his equipment as he fell down in the crease. That put the Bolts back in front by four goals at 5-1.
Another power play to the Blue Jackets -- this one after an Anton Stralman trip -- saw the Jackets convert again after a regrettable sequence from Evgeni Nabokov, who appeared to lose track of the puck more than once, eventually resulting in another power play tally for Hartnell and a 5-2 score. Again, though, the Lightning answered quickly this time with a man advantage marker of their own from Tyler Johnson to bring the score to 6-2 midway through the second, and in spite of a few more good scoring chances that's where the score remained heading into the final 20 minutes.
Ryan Johansen made the Lightning sweat a bit with what seemed like a routine wrist shot from the left wing that beat Nabokov somehow to make things interesting at 6-3. Then they made things really interesting with a Nick Foligno power play goal -- the third man advantage tally of the game for Columbus -- to make the score 6-4. The Blue Jackets continued to press during a furious third period trying to complete they rally and pulled their goalie with 2:36 left but failed to convert and ceded an empty net goal to Tyler Johnson for a 7-4 final in a game that ended up way closer than it should have.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets held their military appreciation night ahead of Veteran's Day on November 11. Ryan Callahan and Nick Foligno took part in a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game.
- Entering play tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have faced fairly significant injury problems, have lost 32 man-games to injury. Columbus had lost 85.
- After scoring his empty-net goal, Tyler Johnson took an unnecessary slash on the hands which resulted in a needless scrum behind the net instigated by Scott Hartnell. That resulted in a Tampa Bay power play to close out regulation.
- The victory marks the fifth straight for the Bolts, who are in Detroit tomorrow looking to keep things rolling.
- For a guy likely looking to redeem himself after a dreadful performance his last outing vs. Minnesota, Evgeni Nabokov did not look sharp. He struggled to track the puck and was flopping around in his crease with alarming regularity. While Tampa Bay's defensive play and penalty kill are still areas that need to be addressed, an .875 save percentage isn't going to cut it. Nabokov needs to be better. If not for the early offensive outburst Jon Cooper might have needed to put Bishop in for a back-to-back situation yet again.
- Former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Dana Tyrell was called up for this match and skated 6:34. He didn't record a point.