The Columbus Blue Jackets needed to pull off a stunning comeback to capture Game 1. Going up 2-0 in the series against Tampa Bay was a far cleaner affair as the Blue Jackets cruised to a 5-1 victory Friday night.
After winning a record-tying 62 games in the regular season, Tampa Bay came into this game with something to prove, but the Lightning didn’t play like a team that just got a rude wake-up call. Instead, Columbus carried its momentum from Game 1.
Cam Atkinson managed to squeak one through Andrei Vasilevskiy just 5:05 minutes into the game. Rather than answer back, Ondrej Palat took a hooking call at 11:40 of the first that led to Zach Werenski almost immediately scoring on a rocket.
Trying to spark his team, Lightning forward Brayden Point fought with Werenski. It certainly wasn’t a likely matchup, but it didn’t end up being a turning point in the game.
Matt Duchene scored his first career playoff goal early in the second period to put the Blue Jackets up 3-0. Werenski got an assist on that marker to earn the Gordie Howe hat trick. Mikhail Sergachev gave Tampa Bay a sign of life 5:00 into the third when he made it 3-1 and soon after that, Nick Foligno took a tripping penalty to give the Lightning the man advantage.
Tampa Bay had the best power play in the league during the regular season, but the Blue Jackets managed an impressive kill to drain whatever momentum the Lightning had built. From there it was just adding insult to injury as Riley Nash and Artemi Panarin each scored to turn what was already looking like a decisive win into a blowout.
The Blue Jackets spent the final 4:26 minutes on the power play because of Nikita Kucherov‘s boarding major. We’ll have to see if the league feels that one warrants further discipline.
“This is a five-alarm fire. We are facing adversity. Sometimes that’s good to face adversity,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game, per Pierre LeBrun.
What you’ll be hearing a lot about now is the fact that Columbus also started its Round 1 series against the Capitals with back-to-back wins in Washington last year. Of course, the Capitals won the next four games and went on to win the Stanley Cup. For Lightning fans, that’s a reason to remain hopeful. For the Blue Jackets, it’s a reminder that nothing has been decided yet.
Lightning-Blue Jackets Game 3 from Nationwide Arena will be Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.