Make no bones about it: the Blue Jackets should have earned two points in this game.
But, they didn't, and it's going to sting for a while.
Here are three things from a difficult defeat at Amalie Arena.
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
Hanging on to a 2-1 lead in the third period, the Blue Jackets appeared to be executing their Tampa Bay Playbook to perfection.
They were above the puck and in solid defensive position. They hunted down loose pucks, arrived in fives and broke out in fives. And when they had chances to score, they took advantage and tested Andrei Vasilevskiy. But this game got away from the Blue Jackets as regulation wilted away; Ross Colton scored off the rush to tie the game, 2-2, and within the span of another shift, Brayden Point (surprise!) gave the Lightning its second and final lead of the game.
After seeming to be in total control, the Blue Jackets lost it in a jiffy. It didn't sit well with them.
"We played good...(and) found a way to lose," defenseman Zach Werenski said. "It's definitely tough. That's a game we have to win."
OFFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT
Yeah, yeah. The Blue Jackets scored two goals, which isn't often enough to win a game–even though it should've been more than enough tonight. The process, however, was really good tonight.
Columbus outplayed Tampa Bay at 5-on-5, controlled the flow of the game and didn't make many mistakes. They needed to see pucks go in the net for some key guys, and Werenski found the net again tonight. Up in the play, he drove the net and cleaned up a rebound to make it 1-1.
Back at center ice, Max Domi was noticeable and active.
"I'm gonna give him a chance," John Tortorella said.
His line with Patrik Laine and Eric Robinson, an odd fit on paper, was actually one of the Blue Jackets' best. Robinson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period – on a breakaway – before things fell apart, and Laine had a handful of looks in the third as the Blue Jackets pushed for an equalizer.
"As a line, we made a decision that we're going to be (on) right from the first shift," Domi said. "It's fun hockey to play and usually that translates to winning hockey... overall, it was a good effort but we have to find a way to take another step in the right direction."
Werenski said it best, but you can't help but wonder if the Blue Jackets will look back on this one when the season is spoken for.
With a lead in the third period and every point so valuable at this time of year, Columbus turned a two-point night into a zero-point night.
"We played a really good hockey game. It's frustrating that we don't come away with anything," Tortorella said. "99 percent of this hockey club played their ass off."