TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped the first game of their opening playoff series Wednesay night 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets and look to rebound tonight in game two. It is the third straight playoff series, dating back to last year, that the Lightning have lost the opening game of a series. The Lightning bounced back to beat the Boston Bruins in five games in 2018 and extended the Washington Capitals to a seven game series in the Conference Final.
On Thursday, the shock of blowing a three-goal lead had turned from shock to the business of idetifying and fixing the problem that led to the loss.
“I don’t know if that’s happened to us, I wouldn’t say months, I’d say years, for us to blow a lead like that,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.
“Just got to turn the page,” said center Tyler Johnson. “We know we can be better. There’s a lot we can improve on from the last game.”
The Lightning grabbed all of the momentum in the first period, scoring three goals, the first on a short-handed situation from forward Alex Killorn. The 3-0 lead carried into the second period but scoring chances were denied by Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who slowly took over the game after a shaky start. In the third period, the Lightning’s 3-1 lead was wiped away in a span of less than seven minutes on goals created from a turnover, a short-handed strike and a Jackets power play.
“I think we did a lot of good things,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “But I think we also got away from our structure and stuff we’ve been doing all well. Assignments and faceoffs. Little things like that.”
The Lighting players were calm after Wednesday’s defeat and a business-like approach was clear at Thursday’s practice session, one that included film work and analysis. The players say they are focused for tonight’s game, well aware of what went wrong in game one.
“Guys were pretty ticked off in here about our effort,” center Steven Stamkos said. “We’re expecting a much better effort tonight.”
The power play will be a good place to start. The NHL’s number one power play was 0 for 3 against Columbus in game one, feeding a streak of more than 20 consecutive penalty kills by the Blue Jackets.