The Columbus Blue Jackets welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Nationwide Arena tonight (7p, FSO/NBCSN) for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, looking to continue their domination of the Bolts to take a decisive 3–0 lead.
|CBJ 2, TBL 0 • EASTERN CONF QTRS|
|TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING|
62–16–4 // 128 points
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – SUNDAY, APRIL 14
FOX SPORTS OHIO, NBCSN
FSO STREAM, NBCSN STREAM
“Domination of the Bolts” would have been considered crazy talk just one week ago, but here we are, with the Jackets having completed a comeback for the ages in Game 1, followed by a complete and utter annihilation of the Tampa Bay system to take Game 2, 5-1.
The Blue Jackets have five periods of the best hockey they've played all season and are looking to make it three more for a 3–0 series lead. That still feels surreal to type.
How surreal? Money Puck's playoff prediction model now has the Blue Jackets at 71.4% to win this series and Columbus, at 8.9%, owns the third-best odds to win the Stanley Cup.
Prior to Game 2, there was concern that the Blue Jackets may be content to head home to Columbus with the series at 1–1. Young teams, and the Jackets have the second-youngest roster in the NHL, often don't have the experience to know that every shift, every minute, every game counts this time of year. Friday night's blowout win has us thinking Columbus is wise beyond its years.
Through the first two, the Blue Jackets have silenced the Lightning's stars. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Samkos, and Brayden Point, who combined for 312 points in the regular season, have zero combined points in this series. Victor Hedman, reigning Norris Trophy winner, looks lost on the ice.
From fiery pregame speeches to faith in his fourth line at critical times, John Tortorella has pushed all of the right buttons from the Blue Jackets bench.
|ONE||WEDS, APR. 10, 2019||CBJ 4, TBL 3 // HIGHLIGHTS|
|TWO||FRI, APR. 12, 2019||CBJ 5, TBL 1 // HIGHLIGHTS|
|THREE||SUN, APR. 14, 2019||TBD|
|FOUR||TUES, APR. 16, 2019||TBD|
Each night seems to bring a new record or other cool bit of trivia. Hell, Zach Werenski is recording Gordie Howe Hat Tricks.
“I'll probably never get one again, but it was a pretty cool moment tonight for sure,” Werenski said after Game 2. “[My teammates] were all pretty fired up. Everyone is calling me Gordie now. It's pretty funny.”
Werenski struggled at times this season – at least by his standards – but he's playing his best hockey of the season when it matters most. And that's how this series is 2–0. The Blue Jackets are getting contributions up and down their bench. After a bumpy season, hockey is fun again.
It will take another team effort to get a third win in this series. Tampa Bay is playing Game 3 without the 128-point Kucherov, but it's still a team that can score and score in bunches.
With a four-point Friday night, Matt Duchene claimed a spot in the Blue Jackets' postseason record book. Who is tonight's hero?
Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines
|9||ARTEMI PANARIN||18||PIERRE-LUC DuBOIS||28||OLIVER BJORKSTRAND||8||ZACH WERENSKI||3||SETH JONES|
|19||RYAN DZINGEL||95||MATT DUCHENE||13||CAM ATKINSON||65||MARKUS NUTIVAARA||58||DAVID SAVARD|
|42||ALEXANDRE TEXIER||71||NICK FOLIGNO||77||JOSH ANDERSON||4||SCOTT HARRINGTON||14||DEAN KUKAN|
|17||BRANDON DUBINSKY||38||BOONE JENNER||20||RILEY NASH|
|72||SERGEI BOBROVSKY||70||JOONAS KORPISALO|
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
|7||MATHIEU JOSEPH||91||STEVEN STAMKOS||37||YANNI GOURDE||27||RYAN MCDONAGH||81||ERIK CERNAK|
|18||ONDREJ PALAT||21||BRAYDEN POINT||9||TYLER JOHNSON||98||MIKHAIL SERGACHEV||5||DAN GIRARDI|
|17||ALEX KILLORN||71||ANTHONY CIRELLI||10||J.T. MILLER||55||BRAYDON COBURN||44||JAN RUTTA|
|73||ADAM ERNE||13||CEDRIC PAQUETTE||24||RYAN CALLAHAN|
|88||ANDREI VASILEVSKIY||70||LOUIS DOMINGUE|
Game 2 Storylines
- Bad, Kuch, Bad. Nikita Kucherov is out tonight, suspended for his hit on Markus Nutivaara. The presumptive Hart Tophy winner has had a rough two games, hitting a crossbar and seeing Sergei Bobrovsky shut him down on his two best chances, but will this necessary line shuffling give the Lightning a boost?
- Playoff Bob. Speaking of Bobrovsky, he's having the postseason of his life. After a shaky start in the series opener, his spectacular saves later in the game helped power his team to the comeback win. In Game 2, he was solid, nearly recording his first shutout in the playoffs, but he also got a lot of help from his defense. Still, he saved what came his way. Is this new “Playoff Bob” real?
- Making Your Mark. Columbus wasn't expected to do much of anything this series against Tampa. It is what makes the series so compelling. Winning this third game puts a stamp on the series. It won't be done and over with, but it will be damn close.