It might not be a rivalry like Pittsburgh, Washington, and Buffalo, but Columbus and Tampa Bay has a certain flair. Maybe more so than those other teams due to these fresh divisional counterparts facing off in the playoffs over the last two-consecutive years.
In front of an empty Nationwide Arena for their home-opener, the Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed the defending Stanley Cup Tampa Bay Lightning back to the place that saw history nearly two years ago with the historic four-game sweep of the Lightning.
Stacked as ever, even without former MVP Nikita Kucherov (hip surgery) we know how potent the club is. Columbus was going to have bring some kind of potency to even try to match the output that the Lightning are armed with.
Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have alternated each of the first four games coming in, and while the pattern swayed towards Korpisalo’s turn, he’s also been pretty good. As Tampa knows:
Okay enough buildup. Here’s what happened:
Andrei Vasilevskiy (23 saves for the night) played at the other end and allowed the game’s first goal! Just 21 seconds in, a Lightning turnover forced a 3-on-1 the other way with Oliver Bjorkstrand finding back of net. How about newcomer Max Domi stripping Victor Hedman!
The only thing is:
yeah this team loses when they score first— Will Chase (@willgchase) January 22, 2021
But positive vibes only, right? It’s opening night at NWA and the Jackets have a lead over the Lightning, like good ole times!
The Jackets held onto the lead through the end of the first period and both teams had 10 first period shots on goal. There were no penalties on either side and Columbus held the edge in the dot 11-7.
#CBJ finish period one with a 1-0 lead, and a 50-50 split with #GoBolts in terms of unblocked shot volume…— Alison (@AlisonL) January 22, 2021
But you’d like to see them create more dangerous chances…and keep the Lightning out of the slot. Jackets with 35.82% of all expected goals.
Shot map via @hockeyviz: pic.twitter.com/msm9I6YAku
Clinging to a one-goal lead against anyone seems borderline hair-on-fire disastrous. But couple that with Tampa Bay gunning for you, and the fact Columbus had one shot on Vasilevskiy into the midway point of the middle frame? Exhales.
And this just reminds me more and more of Torts versus Ryan Johansen (RyJo article dropping next week!).
Tortorella said in Detroit that we'd know when he benches a guy.— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 22, 2021
Dubois' last shift ended with 4:36 left in the first period and we're almost seven mins into the second.
Does that count, you think?#CBJ
On the first power play of the game in the second period, the Blue Jackets failed to do anything like usual, including getting a shot at the net. Columbus did manage to get up to six for the period, but the thing we all figured was coming, came, when the Lighting evened the ledger.
And then took the lead.
Blake Coleman scored the first goal, as Yanni Gourde and Ryan McDonagh assisted. And moments later, Mathieu Joseph did the scoring again, while Anthony Cirelli also added an assist and McDonagh doubled up in that category for the evening.
well that was fun while it lasted!— Will Chase (@willgchase) January 22, 2021
Torts time to play the young fun guys and maybe there's more chances. pic.twitter.com/MHes9Bydl2
Pierre-Luc Dubois didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game, only playing 3:55 (in the first period) for the night.
Everybody: “How dare Torts bench him!”— Mike (@mikebrucePT) January 22, 2021
The constant level of effort to battle for the puck: pic.twitter.com/5EJxBsmYph
The Lightning held the advantage in shots 25-16 through two periods.
If you’re down one goal entering the third period, do you want your best player on the ice? Or are you tryna settle old scores and prove points?
That’s one thought! Nick Foligno had an answer.
Things like that goal will help change the topic and Cam Atkinson also picked up his first point of the year with the secondary assist. Bjorkstrand picked up the primary assist with his second point on the night. That goal on the power play broke the 0-for-8 dry spell on the season.
The Blue Jackets had two more power plays in the period which failed to convert.
cap wants as Gordie Howe Hat Trick pic.twitter.com/OwckWctrrH— Will Chase (@willgchase) January 22, 2021
The score remained 2-2 through three as the Blue Jackets picked up a point for the second consecutive game. Columbus was outshot 11-7 in the third.
Overtime had some action on both ends, and it culminated with the away team getting the third goal first. Braden Point scored the goal, Steven Stamkos and Hedman had the assists. Both teams had two overtime shots as Tampa edged the Jackets 37-25 for the game. Korpisalo remained solid making 34 saves.
Had to go out with a little fire.
Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre breaks down the lack of hustle by PLD leading to his benching the rest of the game.
Final stats from Natural Stat Trick. Columbus is now 0-2-2 when scoring first. Seth Jones led the team on the ice (27:59) and Alexandre Texier led the forwards (20:10). Victor Hedman led Tampa (26:56). Alex Killorn and Liam Foudy co-led the game with five shots. While Columbus was 1-for-4 on the power play, Tampa Bay was 0-for-1. Both teams play again at Nationwide Arena on Saturday at 2 pm EST.