The Tampa Bay Lightning needed a defenseman to guard the blue line. Instead, they got one who lit the scoreboard.
After recording an assist in each of his last three games, Mike Lundin scored in the first period to extend a career-best point streak to four games, albeit in a hard-fought 3-2 loss at Columbus on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay played short-handed with just five defensemen for the second time in less than a week, a situation that was worsened when rookie Victor Hedman was unable to return following a lower body injury in the first period.
Already without David Hale and Matt Smaby to support a 22-save effort by Antero Niittymaki, Tampa Bay surrendered two third-period goals, including one on the power play, as Columbus won for the third time in its last four games.
Fedor Tyutin sparked a third period rally with a goal that erased a one-goal deficit to tie the game at 6:21, and Rick Nash scored twice, including the game-winner for the Blue Jackets, 7-2-2 in their last 11. Kristian Huselius added two assists.
Lundin made it 1-0 with 3:10 remaining in the first when he lifted a shot from the left point through a screen and over the shoulder of goaltender Steve Mason.
Nash drew even just over a minute later after Lundin turned the puck over in the slot to take a tie game into the first intermission.
“We got the goal and it was unfortunate that Lundin had it go the other way after he scored, but overall I thought we came out pretty good,” Lightning assistant coach Adam Oates said.
Vincent Lecavalier regained Tampa Bay’s lead on the power play at 8:06 in the second when a shot deflected off the skate of Columbus’ Marc Methot and into the back of the net.
“We talked before the game about Vinny having a little more time and some more opportunities on the power play,” defenseman Kurtis Foster said. “It was a huge goal for us.”
Lecavalier has points in all but two of his last 14 games for Tampa Bay, winless in two straight.
Tyutin scored from the left circle to tie the game at two with a shot that sailed over Niittymaki’s glove and into the upper left corner of the net to open the third period.
Columbus took its first lead of the game after R.J. Umberger made a blind centering feed from his stomach to Nash who scored his second of the night, this time with the man advantage, at 7:37.
Goaltender Steve Mason stopped 16 of 18 shots, including 13 through the first two periods, to hold Tampa Bay scoreless for the final 32 minutes and to earn his third straight victory in net for the first time since Feb. 10.
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