For the second consecutive game, Stamkos scored the game-winning goal and added an assist to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
The win was the second straight for Tampa Bay, which earned victories in consecutive games for the first time since sweeping a home-and-home series against the division-rival Panthers on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“We’ve been playing pretty well, but haven’t had the results,” Stamkos added. “We controlled the puck well tonight.”
Garon, appearing in his sixth consecutive game, made his first return back to Columbus after spending the previous two seasons in goal for the Blue Jackets. He said the homecoming was secondary, however, as his focus instead was on helping his new team.
“It was a little different to see players who you used to play with year-round,” Garon said of his return. “But it was a fun experience [in Columbus], I had two good years there and my family really loved it, but I’ve turned the page and now I’m happy to be in Tampa.”
RJ Umberger and Rick Nash each had goals for the Blue Jackets.Saturday’s game closed out a five-game home stand for Columbus, which wrapped up the stretch with a 1-3-1 record. They’ve now lost seven of their past 10 games.
Jones opened the scoring just over seven minutes in after deflecting a Teddy Purcell pass from behind the net past Columbus goaltender Steve Mason.
Brewer’s blast from above the right circle then added to the lead at 18:12 to give the Lightning a 2-0 advantage heading into the second.
“We were pleased after that first period,” Lightning assistant Dan Lacroix said. “We did a good job of driving towards the net and making plays.”
Tampa Bay has now scored a total of 12 goals in its past three games after recording the same number in its seven games prior.
A wrap-around goal by Umberger while on the power play cut the deficit in half at 5:43, but Stamkos re-took the two-goal lead 4:22 later after finishing off a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with Vincent Lecavalier and Dana Tyrell.
“We got some great momentum on that goal,” Stamkos said. “I was actually tying to set it up, but Vinny’s a great player and he made a great play there.”
Stamkos now has four goals and six points in his past three games. His tally in Saturday’s contest gave him 20 on the season to lead all NHL skaters.
Nash brought Columbus back within one with approximately eight minutes to go in the frame after sneaking a backhand past Garon’s pad for his 10th of the season.
The Lightning net minder settled in after that and made some big saves down the stretch, including one on James Wisniewski late in the third to preserve the one-goal lead until the final horn.
“We brought a lot of drive and we made a lot of good plays,” Lecavalier said. ‘We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey and we’re getting a few wins right now, so we just got to keep it rolling.”
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