Game 3 Preview: Blue Jackets Welcome Lightning to Columbus, Look to Seize 3–0 Series Lead

By Sam Blazer on April 14, 2019 at 7:05 am
Can Pierre-Luc DuBois light the lamp at home tonight?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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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
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
62–16–4 // 128 points
ROSTER / SCHEDULE

7 P.M. – SUNDAY, APRIL 14
NATIONWIDE ARENA
COLUMBUS, OH

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.

Blue Jackets Lead Series, 2–0
Game Date Result
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.

Matt Duchene and Seth Jones were heroes in Game 2.

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

LW C RW LD RD
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  
Goalie Backup
72 SERGEI BOBROVSKY 70 JOONAS KORPISALO

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

LW C RW LD RD
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  
Goalie Backup
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.
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