The Columbus Blue Jackets bounced back in a big way, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 by a 3-1 score to even the series at 1-1. After a slow start that saw the Lightning grab an early lead, the Blue Jackets showed the same resiliency that was on display against the Toronto Maple Leafs, eventually finding their game and slamming the door on the dangerous Lightning.
Here are three things to take away from the game, as Columbus heads into Game 3 feeling better about their prospects.
Heading into Game 2, I was interested to see how the Blue Jackets would respond. For starters, both teams had less than optimum time to recover from a 5OT marathon. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski both played over 60 minutes, and all Blue Jackets skaters not named Nathan Gerbe played more minutes in Game 1 than any other game this season. That doesn't even begin to cover the sheer amount of high-stakes hockey the Blue Jackets have played (seven games/28 periods in 12 games) compared to the Lightning (who waded through a round-robin with no dire stakes). But the Blue Jackets aren't willing to let energy serve as a possible excuse.
We've played a lot of hockey over the last week or so. Coming from a break, that's all you can ask for, is to play. We're feeling good. The team is feeling great.— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) August 13, 2020
Dubois on the confidence of the Blue Jackets#CBJ
Then there's the obvious concern about momentum. Would the Blue Jackets be able to muster up a fight after a demoralizing loss? If the first 12 minutes of Game 2 were any indication, I had every right to be concerned. Shots were 9-0 and the Lightning were heading to the power play with a chance to add to their 1-0 lead.
After a much-needed penalty kill, the switch flipped.
The most important part of the game was that first penalty kill because we didn't seem to have that much going on. I think we played a better game in Game 2 here, but we're going to have to be better as we keep pushing forward.— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) August 13, 2020
Tortorella on the ebb and flow of the game#CBJ
The Blue Jackets, despite the slow start, finished the period up 2-1 thanks for huge goals from Ryan Murray and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Both goals were assisted by Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Any concerns about matching Tampa Bay's intensity subsided after that period. Alexander Wennberg added the insurance goal of the century, and (cues broken record) Joonas Korpisalo was dynamite again.
KORPISALO CONTINUES RIDICULOUS PLAY
Two days after stopping an NHL-record 85 saves in Game 1, Korpisalo was superb again, turning away 36 of 37 shots.
Though he didn't need to face quite the same plethora of shots as in Gm1, @BlueJacketsNHL goalie Joonas Korpisalo got the win vs TBL this time. With another stellar performance, he also has totaled the highest mark on this list of goalies starting off a playoff series under siege pic.twitter.com/JfXL0KN7LQ— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) August 14, 2020
It's funny to think about Korpisalo's path to this point. For years, he played apprentice to Sergei Bobrovsky's master. Bobrovsk'y legacy with Columbus is complicated, but two things stand out: his largely rough postseason numbers and him signing a $70M contract. Meanwhile, Korpisalo gets a shot to start in the Qualifying Round and puts on an absolute clinic, matching his season shutout totals (two) in just four postseason games. Then he gets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Tampa and takes his game to another level. What a story.
The credit is shared throughout the lineup for clogging the high-danger areas and for the club's commitment to blocking shots. The club has bought into the preventive concept to the tune of 21 blocks in Game 2 alone.
Joonas Korpisalo so far this postseason:— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) August 13, 2020
.962 save % in 6 games
Stopped first 57 shots he faced
Shutout in do-or-die game
Made 85 saves in single game
Stopped 154 of 158 shots in 3 games since getting pulled
Doing it vs. 1st and 4th highest scoring teams this season
Korpisalo picked a perfect time for the hottest run of his career.
JUST ENOUGH SCORING
The Blue Jackets won't be confused for the Maple Leafs or the Lightning in terms of offensive firepower. Still, the club wouldn't be squared in this series (let alone advanced in the Qualifying Round) without finding some offense.
The first goal of the game came from
noted sniper Ryan Murray, his first career playoff goal off a nice centering feed from Pierre-Luc Dubois.
After being held without a goal in five games against the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets needed to find some offense from the club's leading goal scorer, Oliver Bjorkstrand. After a ridiculous shot got him off the schneid in Game 1, the Dane added a power-play goal in Game 2, as Dubois added his second assist of the game.
But the real fireworks didn't come until the 11:27 mark of the 3rd period when Alexander Wennberg corralled a pass from Liam Foudy in the neutral zone. An innocuous-looking play turned into arguably the goal-of-the-playoffs, as Wennberg went sicko mode, backhand between his legs, foot to stick, before putting the puck far side on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Wennberg, you may recall, has struggled offensively for years now. After scoring two goals in 2018-19, he found the back of the net just five times this past season. But in the seven games since the restart, he's tallied two goals. Go figure. The Blue Jackets may not have the star-studded, offensively-gifted casts of their first two opponents, but they've proven they can hang around.