Since a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on March 21st, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s offensive well was drying up. Before Thursday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, Tampa Bay failed to top three goals in each of their previous eight games, which included a lackluster 4-2 loss on Tuesday in Columbus. Having fallen to third place in the Central Division, the Lightning needed an offensive turnaround. A first period outburst turned out to be just what the Lightning needed.
Tampa Bay lit up the scoreboard for three goals in the game’s first 5:41, chasing Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo en route to a four-goal first period, propelling the Lightning (27-11-2, 56 points) to a 6-4 win over Columbus (15-19-8, 38 points). When taking a look at the box score, one might think it was Tampa Bay’s big stars who got things going. However, if you made that assumption, you’d mostly be wrong. The Lightning’s third line of Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde, and Barclay Goodrow combined for 10 points (!!), with Gourde tallying four assists and Goodrow and Coleman each recording a goal and two helpers.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh chipped in two goals, Ross Colton continued his solid rookie season with another tally, and Steven Stamkos chipped in a power play goal to give the Lightning just their second win in their last seven games. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the win, stopping 32 of 36 shots while picking up his 24th win of the season.
A quick barrage by the Lightning leads to a goaltending change
Coleman only needed 58 seconds to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, converting a beautiful saucer pass from Gourde on a 2-on-1 for his eighth of the season. Tampa Bay continued to carry the play over the next few minutes, leading to Nick Foligno taking a tripping penalty. On the power play for the first time in the game, it didn’t take the Lightning long to convert. Stamkos waited, picked his spot, and wired one short side past Korpisalo for a 2-0 Bolts lead. Stamkos’s tally ended a three-game goalless drought for Tampa Bay’s power play.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 8, 2021
Exactly one minute later, Goodrow found the back of the net for the first time since February 25th, ending a 21-game goal drought and increasing the Lightning’s lead to 3-0.
That goal spelled the end of the night for Korpisalo, who got the hook in favor of Elvis Merzlikins after allowing three goals on six shots.
Vasilevskiy and McDonagh come to the rescue before the first period ends
Over the final five minutes of the period, Columbus began to assert themselves, tilting the ice in their favor and generating multiple quality chances. However, Vasilevskiy was up to the task, highlighted by this gem of a save on Alexandre Texier on a give-and-go play.
— Alison (@AlisonL) April 8, 2021
The Blue Jackets broke through with 2:39 to go in the first period, as Michael Del Zotto jumped into the play and zipped a shot from the high slot past Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-1. However, McDonagh stemmed the tide with a buzzer-beater with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, jumping up into the play and squeezing a shot under Merzlikins for his third goal of the year.
Had to squeeeeeze that one in pic.twitter.com/C0p2ILHXBX
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 9, 2021
Colton joins the action and McDonagh tallies his second of the night
At the 4:54 mark, Pat Maroon made an impressive defensive play to kick-start a rush the other way, working the puck up to Tyler Johnson. Johnson held onto the puck and fed it to Colton, who crashed the net like he’d been shot out of a cannon. Colton’s initial shot was stopped by Merzlikins, but as Colton lost his footing, the puck went off his feet and into the net as he continued to slide forward before crashing hard into the boards. Colton appeared to be in pain, but never left the game. Jack Roslovic narrowed the Lightning’s lead to 5-2 late in the period when he roofed a perfect shot past Vasilevskiy top shelf to the short side, but McDonagh helped the Lightning regain a four-goal advantage when his shot from the center point squirted between Merzlikins’s blocker and body before landing in the net for a 6-2 lead.
Columbus gets two late ones and Stamkos exits the game
Things got chippy in the final period when Stefan Matteau caught Mikhail Sergachev with a huge hit. There was no head contact and the play didn’t draw a penalty. Despite that, it still drew the ire of the Lightning thanks to Matteau appearing to leave his feet. Cal Foote immediately dropped the gloves with Matteau, drawing an instigator penalty that put the Blue Jackets on a short-lived power play that ended when Roslovic caught Coleman with a high stick. Zach Werenski and Max Domi scored goals to make the score more respectable, but the bigger story was what happened with Stamkos.
Play where Steven Stamkos got hurt and left game. Awkward play, no contact, but in discomfort after reaching for puck https://t.co/uzTceAprtJ
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) April 9, 2021
The play appeared to be an innocent one, as there was no contact, but he was clearly in some discomfort after trying to make a play on the puck. He left the game and did not return. After the game, there was no update on Stamkos’s condition.
The Bolts return to action on Saturday night when they continue their road trip in Nashville for a contest with the Predators. Puck drops at 8 pm EST.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Yanni Gourde – Finished with four assists in a game for the first time in his career.
2nd Star: Blake Coleman – One goal and two assists.
3rd Star: Ryan McDonagh – Scored two goals, including one that put the Lightning up 4-1 with 0.4 seconds to go in the opening period.
- Panthers clinch home ice, blank Bolts in regular season finale May 10, 2021
- Lightning serve up defensive nightmare in drubbing at hands of Stars May 7, 2021
- Point and Killorn lead Lightning past Stars, now tied for second in Central May 5, 2021
- Third line and solid defense propel Lightning to win over Detroit May 2, 2021
- Lightning Can’t Finish in Shootout Loss in Detroit May 1, 2021
- Bolts continue dominance over Stars with 3-0 victory April 29, 2021
- Playoff-bound Bolts score up a storm to beat Hawks April 27, 2021
- Hedman’s heroics lift Lightning to crucial win over Jackets April 25, 2021
- D-Corps matches Columbus’ effort in much needed Lightning win. April 22, 2021
- Tyler Johnson: Grab Some Bench April 21, 2021