After Game 4, Columbus Blue Jackets have swept the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Presidents Trophy was first introduced following the 1985-86 season. Since its inception, no team has won the award and been swept in the opening round. That all changed on Tuesday night. The Columbus Blue Jackets earned their first series victory in team history.
The Blue Jackets got off to a very fast start thanks to an early slashing penalty by Ryan McDonagh. They got the opening tally on a goal by Alexandre Texier from Seth Jones and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Nationwide Arena was rocking and the momentum sprung the Jackets to another goal just 1:22 later. This came off the stick of Dubois from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Adam Clendening.
Columbus looked to make it 3-1 on a goal by Cam Atkinson, but after a Tampa challenge for offside the score remained 2-1 through 20 minutes. The Lightning carried the momentum into the break.
In the period of the “long change,” it is imperative to be clean on and off the bench. This was magnified when Tampa made a slow change that led to a goal by Seth Jones from Atkinson and Matt Duchene.
When the Lightning were able to get their cycle going, Columbus showed flaw. This was noticeable when Braydon Coburn unloaded a shot from the blue line that was deflected in front by Cedric Paquette. Jan Ruuta got the secondary assist, and we had a one-goal game once again. Tampa continued to press and got the eventual tying goal from Brayden Point from Stamkos and Kucherov. The team was showing flashes of what led them to a record tying 62 regular season wins. That momentum was short-lived, as a delayed penalty led to a goal by Bjorkstrand from Scott Harrington and Dubois.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were able to re-establish the one-goal lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
After the Lightning pressed and pressed, Sergei Bobrovsky stood tall to the task. He made 13 saves in the 3rd period, and not a single one looked routine. Jon Cooper took an aggressive approach and pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy with over two minutes remaining and the Bolts down by one. The risk was not worth the reward as Artemi Panarin put home the first empty netter to make it a 5-3 lead. Texier netted the 2nd empty netter from Zach Werenski and Nick Foligno. The exclamation point was added when Duchene potted the third empty net goal from David Savard and Harrington.
My Team Hero
There is so many players that you could put in this section, but the biggest stars of the night was the crowd at Nationwide Arena. When I was watching the final ten minutes of the 3rd period, there was not a single person using the seat that they paid so much money to procure. This is a fan base that has waited so long to enjoy the moment, and after 19 years of trying, they finally get to taste a playoff victory.
My Team Villain
Beyond taking the early penalty and giving all the momentum to Columbus in the opening minute of the game, McDonagh was abysmal all night. He led the Lightning with more than 24 minutes of ice time and finished with -4. Of course, he was on the ice for the empty net goals, so that is a misleading stat. He did, however, miss Dubois on the back-door cut that led to the second goal of the game. He also had a team high 5 giveaways. All in all, quite a night to forget for McDonagh.
Three Stars of the Game
- Alexandre Texier– 2G
- Pierre-Luc Dubois– 1G, 2A
- Sergei Bobrovsky– 30-33 SVS. 13SVS in the 3rd period.
Tampa will regroup and try to figure out what went wrong after a historic regular season.
Columbus will begin preparations for the winner of the Toronto and Boston series. They were 1-1-1 against the Bruins and 1-2-0 against the Maple Leafs.
stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals