Heading into the 2019-20 playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning were the consensus Stanley Cup favorites. The Lightning romped to the President’s Trophy with a 62-16-2 record, good for 128 points. The Bolts went 32-7-2 at home and scored a whopping 325 goals over the course of the season for a +103 goal differential. Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Ted Lindsay award as he amassed 128 points (41-87-128) over the course of the season. In addition, Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy with a 39-10-4 record, a 2.40 GAA an a .925 SV%.
The Blue Jackets did not do that. They were the second wild card who needed a win on the final day of the season to squeeze into the playoffs. Despite an 0-3-0 record against the Lightning in the regular season (while being outscored 17-3 in the process), Columbus boasted one of the better road records in the NHL and playmakers throughout the roster. Artemi Panarin broke the franchise record for points in a single season with 85; Cam Atkinson tied the franchise record for goals scored in a single season with 41; and Sergei Bobrovsky led the NHL with nine shutouts.
Here’s how it unfolded. Let’s take a look back with some commentary. No butt tattoos involved this time.
Pregame: Columbus is massive underdogs! Well, yeah. They try to talk about players who have picked it up for Columbus, in Sergei Bobrovsky. Personally, headed into this game, I was just concerned that Bob was gonna allow approximately a thousand goals. Remember, in the previous matchup between the two teams, Bobrovsky had been suspended for by the team after he got shelled and pulled. Bad omen? Sure didn’t feel like a good one at least heading in. Jody Shelley, cleverly, only mentions that whole situation in passing in the pregame show.
Also, watch parties outside the arena? Do that, Blue Jackets. It would be great going forward.
Faceoff: First shot on goal to the Blue Jackets. Columbus looked to get the puck out of the zone early and a great feed from Artemi Panarin led to a Cam Atkinson shot.
I literally forgot Ryan Dzingel was ever a Blue Jacket. Glad he contributed a bunch of memorable things during his time here.
17:30 to go: A turnover in the defensive zone saw Steven Stamkos with a dangerous opportunity from the slot but Seth Jones blocked the shot. Shocker. The first of several big plays by Jones on the night.
Fight! Brandon Dubinsky fought Dan Girardi after a couple rough hits. The Jackets earned the first power play after Dan Girardi hit Dubinsky with a check to the head.
15:48 to go: Naturally, the Jackets and their 28th ranked power play absolutely wasted it. To make matters worse, they allowed a shorthanded goal to Alex Killorn. Jones missed a pass and Killorn was off to the races. I remember feeling “oh god, here we go.” It was Tampa’s first shot on goal. Of course.
Columbus spent the next few minutes cycling the puck and winning board battles with the Lightning, setting the tone for what we would see as the winning formula over the next three games. The Jackets were just more physical than the Lightning from the first shift.
OH BOY, TORTS SPEECH TIME. I’d run through a brick wall after that. How could you not be fired up after that?
10:00 to go: Scott Harrington made a few good plays early in the one. Credit where it’s due!
Lol Jody Shelley. “Make this a long series!” It’s not a long series Jody, but not for the reason you might think. If only we knew then.
8:59 to go: Three shots on goal, two goals. Bobrovsky tried to play the puck, but Ryan Dzingel misplayed the clearing attempt. A Cernak shot led to a massive rebound and an easy finish for Anthony Cirelli. Despair was setting in, and quickly. The Bolts were up 2-0 on the scoreboard on just three shots. Felt bad, man.
Oh hey, I forgot Adam McQuaid was a Jacket. Remember when his career was ended by a shot to the head that wasn’t penalized? Good times.
5:45 to go: Markus Nutivaara just made a HUGE save. The puck got through Bobrovsky and Nutivaara was able to clear a sure goal off of the line. Man, Bobrovsky was bad in this first 20 minutes. Just awful. No confidence, huge rebounds.
4:17 to go: Alexandre Texier nearly scored to cut the deficit to one! He stole the puck and couldn’t find a way to beat Vasilevskiy.
2:10 to go: Another bad goal by Bob, who had the puck hit his glove before a comedy of errors in the defensive zone ensured. Bobrovsky was unable to glove it, Panarin lost it in his own skates some. In this moment, though, Sergachev was able to skate right down broadway and fire one that was tipped in. Bobrovsky looked confused by the shot after the goal was allowed.
At the end of the first period, I was in a dark place recapping the game.
Lightning goal (0-3): Gourde from Sergachev and Ruuta, 2:10
To add insult to injury, David Savard took an interference penalty with 32.8 seconds remaining in the period, giving the best power play in the game a chance to make it 4-0.
Tampa dominated the second half of the period to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. Tampa also led in shots 13-6.
Columbus at least got to intermission without giving up a power play goal. Small victories.
Like I said. Dark place.
“Playoff hockey does not start well for the Jackets” says Brian Giesenschlag in the understatement of the century. Also, miss you Bill Davidge.
goodness, what moron (me) made this comment in the game thread?
Inability to clear the zone. Bob cannot control rebounds or glove pucks. Lack of defensive coverage and communication. No simple passes from tape to tape, instead flipping it into the defensive zone and hoping for a break/mistake. Inability to clear the zone. No composure or communication on the puck. But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
19:30 to go: Bobrovsky was only playing Kucherov on that. He wasn’t even considering Stamkos a threat to shoot, and it was the right call. That was the save of the game and it had to help morale. Bob was bad in the first period (not that he was helped by basically anyone in his own zone) but he was a monster there.
17:42 to go: Matt Duchene with a steal and a shot shrugged aside by Vasilevskiy. Miss you Dutchy.
13:34 to go: I kinda zoned out, but Tampa has been is the Columbus zone for approximately 67 minutes. Once Columbus got out and got a change, they were rewarded with Kucherov walking into the zone and firing a shot high and wide. Tough times, but Bob was equal to it.
10:45 to go: THE JACKETS ARE ON THE BOARD. The captain, Nick Foligno, opens the Jackets’ playoff account with his first of the series. After a pass was broken up in the defensive zone, Foligno was sprung behind the Tampa blue liners and he was able to pick a spot on Vasilevskiy’s far post and bury it. What a move from the captain.
THE CAPTAIN has the #CBJ on the board! pic.twitter.com/zBAgyokmFW— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 11, 2019
Fox Sports Ohio flashed a graphic referring to the Pittsburgh 2OT comeback. Foreshadowing there.
8:00 to go: Big save from Bob with a crowd in front of the net. Not sure how he even saw that one, but he kept it out. Bob was immense in the second period as the Jackets tried to gain a foothold in this game.
Also the defense stepped up in this one. Nutivaara and Savard were immense in this game. Nutivaara just steered Yanni Gourde away from the net as he looked to that the puck in on Bobrovsky.
5:00 to go: Matt Duchene forced a kick save from Vasilevskiy that went to the far post, but Columbus had no one there to take advantage of the rebound and a gaping net. And it was WIDE open. A beer leaguer could’ve finished that. Not me, I can’t skate. I’d be over on the wall someplace.
2:50 to go: The fourth line just bossed the Lightning for a solid minute and earned a scrum as the Lightning were getting frustrated below the net. Sign of things to come there. The seeds of a series win are getting planted.
End of two: David Savard fell down but Bobrovsky was able to deny Killorn and Cirelli in rapid succession with about a minute to go. Just a great period by Bob. And he made another save as the period ended!
Let’s get weird, folks.
20:00 to go: FSO just flashed a graphic: “Tampa is 38-0-0 when Kucherov has 2 points or more in a game.” He didn’t have a point in this series until game 4. Just a masterful job of shutting down the Hart Trophy winner.
17:45 to go: Bob stones Stamkos on a 2 on 1 chance with Stammer and Kucherov as Harrington got turned around. Like. Okay, I guess we’re feeling ourselves now eh boys? Just crazy given how bad the first period was.
16:00 to go: Dubinsky just took a big slapper from Savard right off the ankle. Ouch. He’s in difficulty, but stays on the bench.
12:24 to go: Yanni Gourde just got obliterated below the Columbus goal line. Like. Dang.
12:04 to go: David Savard, offensive defenseman! The bearded wonder flew down and buried one high on Vasilevskiy’s glove side to draw the Jackets within one. Officially alive, and not a moment too soon.
David Savard just undressed Victor Hedman and scored. What a time to be alive.
Also, second CBJ goal Anderson has been on the ice for. Pay the man, Jarmo.
#CBJ David Savard with what's probably the best goal of his career to cut Tampa's lead to 3-2: pic.twitter.com/OtOlklU1bh— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 11, 2019
11:50 to go: Stamkos just fired wide from point blank range. He should’ve scored.
10:37 to go: Dubinsky off for four minutes for high sticking Cedric Paquette. I remember being extremely frightened here. Giving four minutes to the best power play in the league seemed like a death sentence.
“If they can just get through this kill” says Jody. You betcha.
8:06 to go: A shorthanded goal! This time, the Blue Jackets answer with a shorty of their own as one of the two top penalty kills in the league (with Tampa, of course) finds a way to get on the board. Anderson is such a beauty, like dang. Size and speed. His name was heard a million times tonight.
Third CBJ goal Andy has been on the ice for tonight. Andy takes a pass in the defensive zone, flies down the ice, and buries it after cutting across the net. Hedman got beaten and Stamkos overskated the play and the puck was in the back of the net.
Are you kidding me right now.
JOSH ANDERSON WITH THE SHORTHANDED GAME-TYING GOAL!#CBJ pic.twitter.com/iXIyTK44I1— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 11, 2019
Here we go.
7:44 to go: Alex Killorn goes off for high sticking Nick Foligno. This power play (after 1:07 of 4v4) might be important.
5:55 to go: SETH JONES HAS DONE IT! THE JACKETS HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD! ON A POWER PLAY GOAL BECAUSE LITERALLY NOTHING MAKES SENSE!!!
What a beauty. Is this really happening? pic.twitter.com/QYOfYv0l9M— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 11, 2019
lol are you kidding me
This hockey team, left for dead after the first period, scored 4 unanswered to take the lead against one of the best regular season teams in NHL history. The dumbest, best sport. The Jackets won a board battle as Matt Duchene took the puck from Cirelli. The puck found Panarin who one timed the puck to Jones on a great feed and Jones made no mistake. Miss you Breadman.
3:52 to go: god the end of this game felt like an eternity
2:25 to go: Anderson got high sticked. Come on, ref.
1:41 to go: Six skaters on for Tampa. Seconds later, PLD sees his empty net attempt blocked by JT Miller. God the anxiety is real and I know how this game ends. I cannot believe I wrote coherent sentences in real time.
1:00 to go: Icing against Columbus. Help.
36 seconds to go: After Bob made a big save, Savard iced the puck. Help.
THREE TWO AND ONE GAME OVER JACKETS WIN
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 Tampa Bay Lightning 3
God, that first period was horrid.
The second though? That was the roadmap to win. Physical play, limit the Lightning chances to one and done, and rely on your playmakers to make plays. The Jackets did that and found a way to get the win.
Josh Anderson was HUGE in this game and losing him would be catastrophic. Find a way to keep him around, Jarmo.
This game was incredible. I left this team for dead after 20 minutes and they fought back. There was no quit in that locker room, every single guy fought tooth and nail to get back into this one. Less heralded guys made plays all over the ice and the unlikely heroes helped lead the way. David Savard scored a wonder goal! Seth Jones, future captain, scored the game winner. Artemi Panarin only had one point in this one; Josh Anderson was on the ice for three goals. Unreal.
Hope y’all had fun with this one! Stay tuned to The Cannon for further hockey coverage and conversations.
Stay safe gang.