Heading into Columbus to start a two-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning had dominated the season series between these two teams, outscoring the Blue Jackets 12-2 in the first two meetings this season.
On Monday night, the Bolts sought to make it a clean sweep of the Blue Jackets in the final meeting between the two teams in 2018-19. Tampa Bay posted a shutout in their last meeting with Columbus in a 4-0 victory at Amalie Arena. The Lightning entered this contest at Nationwide Arena on a nine-game point streak (7-0-2).
Kucherov scores twice in the first
Columbus started the game with a furious pace, challenging the Lightning with a ferocious forecheck. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall as Columbus dominated in shots on goal. Vasilevskiy was his usual dominant self and kept the Jackets’ offense in check. Vasilevskiy’s fellow countryman, Nikita Kucherov, also had a very fortuitous period. Kucherov scored the game’s first two goals, both of which came off of Columbus turnovers. The first goal came in the form of a backhanded shot that beat Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo high, and the second was a backhander that went through the five hole.
Statistically, Columbus controlled the first period, out-shooting the Lightning 19-6 and winning 17 of the 20 face offs in the first. However, after the first period, the score was 2-0 in favor of the Lightning.
Stars continue to shine
The second period had much more even play as the the Lightning seemingly found their footing. Vasilevskiy continued to dominate in the second period, stopping everything Columbus threw at him. Late in the second period, Josh Anderson attempted to force his way into the crease but instead ran full force into Vasilevskiy. Anderson was sent to the box for goaltender interference. Columbus, while on the penalty kill, was then called for too many men on the ice, giving Tampa Bay a two-man advantage. Only seconds later, Stamkos found the back of the net on a one-timer from the left faceoff circle, making it 3-0 after two periods.
Point puts it away early
The Lightning not only brought a 3-0 lead into the third, they also started the period on a power play. Brayden Point didn’t waste any time, scoring off of a wicked wrist shot only 12 seconds into the period, extending the Bolts’ lead to 4-0. Point wasn’t done yet, scoring his second goal of the night only 45 seconds later to make it 5-0. Point’s second tally also gave Kucherov his fifth point of the game, his 18th point in five games, and his 99th of the season in just 60 games.
Late in the third, the Blue Jackets managed to end Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak at two games. With less than two minutes left, Lukas Sedlak scored to give Columbus their first of the night. Vasilevskiy went 183 minutes without allowing a goal. Despite that, the Lightning notched their sixth win in a row, taking down the Jackets 5-1. Tampa Bay’s point streak is now at ten games (8-0-2), their second-longest streak of the season behind a 16-game point streak (15-0-1) from late November to early January. With the win, the Lightning now own a record of 45-11-4 and 94 points.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Nikita Kucherov – Two goals and three assists, a league-leading 99 points this season.
2nd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Made 39 saves on 40 shots, good for a save percentage of .975.
3rd Star: Brayden Point – Two goals and one assist, he leads the team with 35 goals.
Tampa Bay will head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers on Tuesday, February 19 at 7:30 pm EST.
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