Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) breaks out after getting past Columbus Blue Jackets center Liam Foudy (19) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Blue Jackets Score Three in the Third to Take Win over Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning took the 4-2 loss in Columbus on Thursday night, after a three-goal third period by the Blue Jackets. The Lightning trailed 1-0 after the first period but scored two goals in the second period to take the lead. However, both offensive and defensive struggles in the third period led to the loss for Tampa Bay.

Blue Jackets Strike First but Lightning Answer with Two in the Second Period

Just 80 seconds in, Columbus winger Johnny Gaudreau had a breakaway opportunity, but goalie Matt Tomkins saved the backhanded shot. The Blue Jackets took the lead in the first period after a goal by left winger Kirill Marchenko. After a poor clearance by Lightning defender Victor Hedman, both Dmitri Voronkov and Cole Sillinger each made great backhand passes to set up Marchenko in the left circle.

Marchenko, who was a healthy scratch for the past two games, led Columbus in shots and takeaways. With just over seven minutes in the first, the Lightning had a three-on-one chance but the shot deflected off the stick of goalie Elvis Merzlikins. The Lightning put up 11 shots but could not solve Blue Jackets goalie  Merzlikins. Meanwhile, Columbus put 12 shots on net against Tomkins, including the goal.

Tampa Bay’s fortunes changed early in the second period. Tampa Bay winger Conor Sheary tied up Columbus defender Ivan Provorov in the Lightning’s defensive zone. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos got on the puck and took it all the way to the net and slid it past Merzlikins to tie the game at one. Stamkos looked to pass the puck to teammate Nicholas Paul on that play. However, the puck went off Columbus defenseman Jake Bean and into the net.

Around two minutes after the Stamkos goal, the Lightning struck again. The Blue Jackets got caught in a long shift, and Stamkos sent a pass to Sheary, who scored the goal. For the second straight goal, the Lightning benefitted from a bit of puck. This time, the pass from Stamkos came off the skate of Blue Jackets Emil Bemstrom and went right to Sheary for the goal. Tampa Bay put up 12 shots in the second period and took the lead 2-1.

Columbus takes control in the third with two goals in three minutes

After a solid first period, the Blue Jackets struggled with control in the second period. Columbus took three penalties in the second period, including one that led to the Lightning putting up five shots on a power play. The Blue Jackets got a power play around four minutes into the third and almost tied the game. Gaudreau had a shot on the right circle and Tomkins made a save on the deflection by center Boone Jenner.

The Lightning had a big chance shorthanded after a turnover by Columbus in their defensive zone. Paul could not direct the puck in, despite Merzlikins leaning towards his right. The Blue Jackets tied the game with 13:19 left in the game. Jenner won the face off and deflected a shot from defenseman Zach Werenski for the game-tying goal. Columbus continued their pressure, and Gaudreau had a shot saved from the slot.

The Blue Jackets took the lead almost three minutes later when defenseman Erik Gudbranson hammered a slap shot past Tomkins. Adam Fantilli’s shot was saved by Tomkins, but Bemstrom backhanded a pass off the boards to set up Gudbranson’s goal. Columbus clearly controlled the third period, as the Lightning put up just two shots after the game-tying goal by Jenner. The Blue Jackets capped off the win with an empty-net goal by Gaudreau, his first of the season.

Bounce back for Columbus, continued struggles for Tampa Bay

With this win, the Blue Jackets snapped their four-game losing streak. Merzlikins saved 27 shots on 29 attempts, while Tomkins saved shots 25 on 28 attempts. The Lightning have yet to win on the road this season, as they are 0-3-1 so far. A main struggle for Tampa Bay on the road has been their power play.

In 10 games this season, the Lightning are fourth in the NHL with a 30.3% power-play percentage. However, they have only converted just one out of their 11 attempts on the power play on the road this season. In addition, both their offense and defense have struggled on the road. In the four road games, Tampa Bay has scored just 10 goals and allowed 18.

The Lightning will have a chance to correct those road problems on Saturday as they take on the Ottawa Senators. The Blue Jackets will also play on Saturday, as they take on the Washington Capitals.

About Matt Rothmann

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