The Bolts rolled into Ohio looking to remain unbeaten facing another grudge match with central division rivals Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning finally getting into action after two games against their 2020 Stanley Cup nemesis Dallas Stars were postponed due to COVID-19 concerns early this week. Chris Gibson was called up from the taxi squad. To Back up the bolts as Curtis Mchelleny is out on the covid reserve list. The Bolts were fortunate to have forward Blake Coleman back from the reserve after he was placed on it earlier in the week.
The story of the game was arguably off the ice. With Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 3rd overall pick in the 2016 draft, asking to be traded earlier in the week. Dubois is a high skilled player who will no doubt be a part of a blockbuster trade coming soon. The team said that this wasn’t a distraction but Dubois was noticeably absent from the Columbus man advantage and recorded a career low 3:55 TOI and zero shots. Clearly uncomfortable and tense on the bench with John Tortorella.
Shots after the first 20 minutes shots were deadlocked at 10 each. Oliver Bjkstrand who had a gordie Howe hat trick on Monday in the Blue Jackets 3-2 Win over Detroit, put CBJ up 1-0 just 21 seconds into the first period. The period came to a close without a penalty against either team headed into the middle frame. The momentum in the hands of Columbus.
After a tightly battled 2nd period. In the final five minutes of the period. Blake Coleman who was recently activated from the Covid reserve list got his 2nd goal of the season. Ryan Mcdougnah recorded his 300th career point. Finishing a gorgeous Tic Tac Toe play starting with a yanni gourde pass to The veteran defenseman who fed Coleman a perfect tap in goal. The former ranger captain added point 301 with another assist feeding a tape to tape one time pass, to mathiue Josephs for his second tally of the season just under 90 seconds later. The lightning seemed to get into a groove in the final 10 minutes of the period. A distinct change in team energy after killing off a penalty to Alex Killorn and finally putting the puck in the net after more than half the game.
Like the first period the Bolts didn’t start the final frame off great. Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno tied up the game 47 seconds into the 3rd period. giving the Blue Jackets their first power play goal of the season. The bolts have allowed 3 power play goals in as many games this season. goals against their penalty kill account for 3 of 5 goals against for the whole season. Tampa was Unable to convert on any of their power plays. The bolts haven’t scored on the man advantage since opening night when they converted 2 Power plays against Chicago. Luke Schenn dropped the gloves with Nick Foligno at the mid way mark of the 3rd trying to ignite the bench to rally for a strong finish, in front of yet another fantastic performance in goal from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Tampa Bay and Columbus are going into overtime again. Another excellent contest between the two franchises. The superstars came to play. The hero of the 5 OT game one marathon game last summer, struck again. Brayden point with helpers from Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman and captain Steven Stamkos delivered home another heroic moment scoring the winner with just under 2 minutes remaining in the overtime. Handing the Bolts their 3rd straight win to start the season and a 2nd consecutive extra time loss for Columbus.
The penalty kill and poor starts to periods were glaring errors on an otherwise well polished unit. Not a perfect 60 minutes but with a little extra time the lightning were able to do what matters most. Win. With 53 games to go, their is optimism the boys from Thunder Bay can tune up their weak spots over the course of this rapid fire season. The Bolts are rolling, and have to be happy after their first close victory of the season.