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Game #3 Recap: Blue Jackets lead series 3-0

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The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in Game 3; can win series Tuesday night.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A chance to put the foot on the throat of the heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning, entering their best-of-seven series with the Columbus Blue Jackets down 2-0, the two teams reconvened at Nationwide Arena Sunday night in Columbus, Ohio.

The Jackets were in a similar scenario a year ago. But on this night, they kept their foot on the throttle, getting three goals by Matt Duchene, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson, and Sergei Bobrovsky was strong yet again, making 30 saves, as Columbus stifled, and frustrated the Lightning in a 3-1 victory to put the Lightning in a 3-0 stranglehold.

Columbus had the first five shots of the game and three scoring chances before the Lightning could register their first shot at the 13:47 mark of the first period. This was also when the Jackets earned their first power play opportunity due to a goaltender interference, coming into the night 3-for-6 in the previous two games. They were unable to convert but did later on, now producing at a 50% clip, 4-for-8 in the series. The Lightning never had a power play on the night.

Scoreless after the first period, the Blue Jackets dictated play, earning 12 of the first 15 shots but nothing to show on the scoreboard. Things changed early on in the second period when Matt Duchene earned his second career playoff goal — the first one attained in Game 2 — off a rebound, and Cam Atkinson and Zach Werenski getting assists.

Already ahead 1-0 and looking for more, Oliver Bjorkstrand answered on the power play, scoring his second career playoff goal.

David Savard, huge in the series with several key blocks, had another block late in the second period on Tyler Johnson’s one-time shot as the Lightning started to increase their zone presence. Looking for run support, Andrei Vasilevskiy kept his team in it with 27 saves.

Early in the third period and desperate to break through, the Lightning came out with the energy you expect from a team staring at an 0-3 hole, including ringing one off the post, and just missing the net before that.

Sergei Bobrovsky made stop after stop but the Lightning were finally able to break through as Ondrej Palat scored his first of the playoffs 4:45 into the final frame.

The Lightning were pushing the Blue Jackets throughout most of the third period, and it felt like the Jackets were doing what they could to just keep the one-goal lead. But finally, with the empty net, Atkinson sealed the game with 59.9 left to give the Jackets the 3-1 lead and 3-0 series lead.

It was Alexandre Texier’s home debut as the young forward got to see Nationwide Arena for the first time following the first four games of his NHL career on the road. ... Markus Nutivaara (day-to-day) missed the game after taking a hit from Nikita Kucherov in Game 2. ... Kucherov missed the game as he served his one-game suspension. ... Victor Hedman missed the game for Tampa Bay with an injury. ... Adam Clendening drew into the lineup, making his NHL playoff debut, playing 9:16 and getting three shots. ... After just 14 shots for the Lighting through two periods, they outshot the Blue Jackets 17-7 in the third. ... The three shots on goal allowed by the Blue Jackets in the first period are the fewest they’ve allowed in a period in a home playoff game. ... The win was the Blue Jackets first home playoff win since April 18, 2017. ... For the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets have won three games in a playoff series. Do you like secondary scoring? The Blue Jackets have had 10 different goal scorers in the series. ... Tampa Bay is on their first three-game losing streak all season.

After all the scrums tonight, including Steven Stamkos getting one in late on Nick Foligno, let’s see what Game 4 has in store.