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Blue Jackets can’t keep pace with the Lightning, lose 4-1

A good effort wasn’t enough as the Lightning stepped on the gas in the third period.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

After getting blanked by the Panthers, the Columbus Blue Jackets headed north to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning came into the game red hot having won 11 of their last 14 games. The Blue Jackets would need a better offensive performance if they wanted a chance to knock off the Lightning. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

1st Period

Tampa struck first off the rush. Namestnikov dropped the puck back to Bellemare who surprised Tarasov with a quick wrister.

TBL Goal 1-0: Bellemare (Namestnikov, Hedman) 3:57

The Jackets spent a lot of time in their own zone and Johnson eventually went off for hooking. Tarasov made an incredible save on Kucherov that took the sail out of the rest of the Lightning man advantage.

Perry then went off for holding to give the Jackets their first power play. The new look, five forward first unit wasn’t able to get anything going. Marchenko toe dragged around a Lightning defender for a prime chance, but he was not able to convert the tough angled shot. No dice for the good guys.

The Jackets went back to the kill when Berni was forced to hook Cirelli on a breakaway. He likely prevented a goal as Cirelli had Tarasov beat. Berni’s heroics paid off as the Lightning were not able to convert. How impressive has Berni been in his short tenure?

Tampa dominated the first period and led in 5v5 scoring chances 13-4. The first line was less than inspiring, prompting Larsen to replace Nyquist with Laine (shocker, it didn’t last), but they still weren’t able to get anything going. God forbid Larsen would break up Gaudreau and Jenner if they were struggling to possess the puck.

2nd Period

Sillinger made a great play to tie up the game. He skated the puck 100 feet into the offensive zone, shook off a Bolt, and found Marchenko cross ice. The newest Russian on the team sniped one past Elliot far side.

CBJ Goal 1-1: Marchenko (Sillinger, Gudbranson) 3:10

Tampa went to the power play late in the period when Christiansen went to the box for tripping. Tarasov made three solid saves on the kill to keep the game tied.

The Jackets won the second period in not only goals, but also in possession. Leading the way was the Sillinger line, which had a goal and held a seven to one unblocked shot advantage through two periods. In typical Larsen fashion, that line was also last in time on ice.

3rd Period

The third period started at a very fast pace. Both teams traded shots, but ultimately it was the Lightning that took the lead. Hagel threw the puck towards the net and a bouncing puck found the stick of Point, who always seems to score against the Jackets.

TBL Goal 2-1: Point (Hagel, Kucherov) 9:02

The Lightning all but put the game away a late in the period when Kucherov found a wide open Hagel. The first line had struggled all night and Larsen refused to split it up. That bill came due on that goal.

TBL Goal 3-1: Hagel (Kucherov, Hedman) 13:36

The easiest empty net goal in the history of the NHL iced the game.

TBL EN Goal 4-1: Hagel (Kucherov, Cole) 17:19

Final Thoughts

Larsen continues to prove he is not cut out to coach in today’s NHL. For six straight periods this team has struggled offensively against good teams, yet he continues to distribute ice time in the same way. The least impactful lines offensively played the most number of minutes. The best line played the least number of minutes.

Gaudreau remains superglued to Jenner, even when Jenner has a bad night. There are some nights that Jenner plays well and his stats line is proof of that, but there are other times, like the last two games, where he is a boat anchor. Gaudreau is one of the best players in the world and he is completely useless when Jenner is having a bad night. It is unacceptable.

Sillinger had a great night. He also finished last on the team in 5v5 time on ice. He ended the night with an xGF% of 95 and an unblocked shot attempt advantage of 10-1.

Tarasov played very well despite whatever story the stats showed by the time the game ended.

There were positives in this game, but it is hard to look past the fact that the coach plays to not lose by not changing his strategy until the team is losing in the third period.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets face the Boston Bruins, the best team in the league, in Boston on Saturday. The puck drops at 1:00PM ET.