COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets may have started to bend by the final minutes of the third period, but they did not break, handing the Tampa Bay Lightning a 1-0 whitewash at Nationwide Arena Tuesday night.
The loss was the Bolts second straight shutout and third in five games.
“I wasn’t proud of us tonight,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s hard for me to say that, but we just kind of stood on the outside. We didn’t go to those dirty areas you need to go to score goals.”
Leading in shots 10-4 after the first period, play quickly shifted in favor of Columbus by the start of the middle frame. Pulling out the circus moves, Nick Foligno was fed a pass from Ryan Johansen. He then maneuvered his stick and puck between his legs and lifted it past goaltender Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead at 4:30.
“You have to get the lead in this league, that’s how you get points,” Cooper said.
Nearly doubling the score at the period’s end, a loose puck floated around Bishop’s crease almost passing the goal line. Blueliner Keith Aulie saw the unattended puck and quickly cleared the area.
Making a huge play on a speedy J.T. Brown breakaway, Blue Jackets’ netminder Sergey Bobrovsky was injured while making the save, leaving after 44:13 seconds of shutout hockey. It seemed as if the former Vezina Trophy-winner jammed his left leg into the post and was unable to put any weight on it when exiting the ice. Curtis McElhinney manned the crease for the remainder of the contest for Columbus.
At the end of the third period the Bolts took advantage of the new Blue Jackets’ goalie in net by putting pressure on in the heart of Columbus’ zone. The action culminated with a lucky power play awarded to the Lightning. However the Lightning offense just could not ignite, with quite possibly the most life being shown by Tampa Bay in the last two minutes of the game.
“If we played with that type of passion in the first 58 minutes maybe it would have been a different story,” Cooper said. “We need to nip this in the bud because we have an Ottawa game coming in Thursday and we need to be ready.”
UP NEXT – The Lightning head back to Tampa Bay tonight and will practice tomorrow at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They then face the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets to closeout the week at home.