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Milestone achieved again as Bolts route Blue Jackets in home finale

Milestone reached again for Steven Stamkos as he hits 100 points for the first time in his career in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets. Prior to this game Tampa’s offense has scored 22 goals in their last 3 games and the offense remained to keep the wheels rolling. Nikita Kucherov stayed red hot and also matched the 4 points scored by captain Stamkos along with his career-high matching goal streak. Tampa made sure to entertain the fans in the regular season home finale as a match-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs is likely on the horizon.

 

Power play provides goals

Starting off, Tampa wasted no time to open up the scoring. Kucherov kept his scoring streak going to 7 games to give the Lightning an early 1-0 lead. However, Blue Jackets soon after would tie the game on the first power play of the night. Zach Bogosian was called for tripping and Columbus took advantage. Oliver Bjorkstrand tied the game with a power play goal that quickly went in and out of the net. Afterwards, Blue Jackets kept the offensive pressure going which Andrei Vasilevskiy handled well. Flow of the game remained steady with a few scoring chances generated on both ends of the ice. Next, Columbus headed on the power play for the second time with just over nine minutes to go in the period. This time Stamkos was guilty of a hooking call and the Lightning penalty kill went back to work.

Stamkos nears 100 points

Penalty kill gets the job done but not before Erik Cernak and Zach Werenski had to leave the ice as both were accidentally hit with the puck up high. Since giving up a goal on the first shot, Elvis Merzlikins remained calm and collected which prevented the Lightning from re-gaining the lead. On the other hand, the defense of the Lightning remained sturdy to keep the game tied with five to go in the first. Then, Lighting received their first power play of the night and would captivate on said power play. Stamkos scored with ease for a career high 99th point to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead late in the period. At this point in the game both Stamkos and Kucherov were working on a two-point night as the period ends.

Milestone yet again for Stamkos

To start the period neither Cernak nor Werenski were seen on their respective benches. Afterwards, Werenski did return to the Blue Jackets bench and right away was back on the ice. Blue Jackets were hungry to find a game-tying-goal picking apart the Bolts defense in the process, but Vasy remained steady in net in the early stages of the period. Columbus then received their third power play of the night after Kucherov was booked for slashing. On the power play Blue Jackets had prime scoring chances but could not finish. Another milestone was to be had by Steven Stamkos after scoring his second goal of the game to extend the Lightning lead 3-1.

Containing the Blue Jackets

Additionally, Stamkos reached 100 points for the first time in his illustrious career with that goal. He kept his historic season rolling with only a couple of games left before the playoffs. With 7 minutes to go in the period it was reported Cernak would not return and the Lightning had to finish the game down a man on the blue line. Game flow continued to be smooth with no penalties to be had as the period winded down. Blue Jackets continued to try and find answer before the period ended while Tampa remained poised with their game. To summarize, neither team was able to score for the remainder of the period. Tampa then looked to seal the deal in the third period.

Game, set, match

To open the period Cole Sillinger is called for slashing giving the Bolts an early power play opportunity. However, Blue Jackets are able to kill off this penalty and keep the score 3-1 Lightning. Following the penalty kill game remained quiet up until near the halfway point of the period. Blue Jackets still could not answer Vasilevskiy which allowed the Lightning to slowly run away with the game. Tampa would do just that after Ondrej Palat buried the feed from Kucherov for the 4-1 lead.

Preparing for playoffs

For Kucherov and Stamkos it was now their fourth point of the night.  Kucherov can break his own milestone of consecutive games with a goal Thursday night.  Jackets continued to struggle against the Lightning lineup with no hope left for them to score again. All in all, Lightning win 4-1 in their last home game of the regular season. While not official yet it is more than likely Tampa will face the Maple Leafs in the 1st round after Toronto secured the 2nd seed with a win over the Red Wings. Had the Panthers defeated the Bruins then the matchup would officially be set. Regardless, the team looks ready to roll and hopefully make another deep run in the playoffs.

 

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Steven Stamkos – 2 goals and 2 assists (1ooth point milestone on 2nd goal)

2nd Star: Nikita Kucherov – 1 goal and 3 assists

3rd Star: Victor Hedman – 1 assist and 3 blocked shots

 

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