Game one of the Lightning and Blue Jackets series was supposed to be a coming out party for the Lightning. They were supposed to run all over the Blue Jackets and start their march to the Stanley Cup Final. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were supposed to score hat tricks and… wait… that didn’t happen? No it didnt.
Period one of game one started like everyone thought it would. The Lightning were using their speed and skill to great effect and were running over the Blue Jackets. On the Blue Jackets first power-play of the game, Alex Killorn stripped the puck from a Blue Jacket defender and sped into the offensive zone on a shorthanded breakaway. He would score to put the Lightning up 1-0. Soon after, Anthony Cirelli would capitalize on a rebound and beat Sergei Bobrovsky in close to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. The Lightning would take a commanding 3-0 lead into the locker room after a Mikhail Sergachev blast was deflected by Yanni Gourde past Sergei Bobrovsky. Things were following the script.
Until they weren’t.
Whatever Columbus Head Coach John Tortorella said to his team in between the first and second periods worked. Half way through the second period, Nick Foligno, the captain and heart and soul of the Blue Jackets, would grab a loose puck and snipe the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy to get the Jacket on the board. The momentum was beginning to shift in favor of the Jackets and they wouldn’t look back.
The third period was one of the most insane periods of hockey I’ve seen in a long time. The Jackets would get a highlight reel goal from David Savard at 7:56 of the 3rd period when he deked around Victor Hedman and ripped the puck top shelf past Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Jackets were feeling it and the Lightning were powerless to stop it. Josh Anderson would join the party next and on a shorthanded opportunity he would skate cross-ice, out wait Vasilevskiy and shoot the puck past him to tie the game at three. The Jackets would take the lead at 14:05 of the 3rd period after a laser of a wrist shot by Seth Jones beat Vasilevskiy. The Lightning wouldn’t score and the Jackets would go on to win game one by a score of 4-3.
Just like everyone predicted.
The Blue Jackets now have the momentum going into game two and make no mistake; now that they’ve tasted this win and know what it takes to beat Tampa they are not going to back down. This is going to be a long series that no one, including myself, predicted. Will Jarmo Kekkalainen’s savvy moves at the deadline pay off? It remains to be seen but the Jackets are off to a damn good start.
Game two is Friday night in Tampa.