While not quite a “pivotal,” stretch for Columbus, they opened play Tuesday with a week full of division leaders with the Lightning, Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals on the bill. And, if the Jackets were using this week as a measuring stick to see where they rank with the top teams in the league, there’s a bit of work to do before Thursday.
Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets were blanked by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-0, thanks in large part to phenomenal play from Tampa’s netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped all 31 shots he faced, a majority of which came in the final two periods of play.
Columbus opened the game keeping pace with the Lightning; they looked steady in the defensive zone, Sergei Bobrovsky looked as if the game was coming to him in slow motion as he made a couple of big early saves to set the tempo.
Or, at least, attempt to set the tempo. For a little under a minute in the closing minutes of the first period, the Jackets had the game get out of hand as Mathieu Joseph and Brayden Point scored 44 seconds apart to give the Lightning a quick 2-0 lead, turning the game on it’s head in a snap.
The Jackets escaped the first period without surrendering more and turned the game in their favor, stat wise at least, in the second period, outshooting Tampa, 17-3, and turning the fancy stats in their favor, but were unable to beat Vasilevskiy and were unable to establish a consistent forecheck or any sort of sustained pressure or offensive chance.
Tampa scored twice more in the third period, once from Nikita Kucherov and once from Brayden Point, to make the game seem more out of hand than it actually was. But, the lack of consistent pressure and quality chances persisted for Columbus, leaving a bitter taste in many Blue Jackets fans mouths.
this, this is... well, not the best— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2019
Reading the Jackets timeline after the game makes it seem like they lost 7-1, or whatever it was the last time Columbus played in Tampa. In reality, it wasn’t that bad - the lack of being able to score just felt a lot worse than it was in actuality.
Some highlights for the Jackets? Alexander Wennberg won 50% of his faceoffs and CBJ both outshot (31-22) and outhit (24-23) the Lightning.
Small victories, but victories nontheless, right?
The Jackets head closer to home for a Thursday showdown in Music City against Nashville in a game that, if they’re not careful, could get just as out of hand just as quickly, if not worse.