If it feels like the Columbus Blue Jackets play their best against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, it's because they do.
This season, the Blue Jackets are 3-1-1 (.700 points percentage) against the Lightning, their best record (by far) against any divisional foe. And while the team has struggled all season with turnovers leading to goals against, the script was flipped in Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the Lightning.
Here are three plays that characterized the win:
PLAY #1: SPEED IN TRANSITION
Zac Dalpe scored his first goal since 2016, and boy did he deserve it. The Blue Jackets proved that they have it within them to play an up-tempo, high-octane version of hockey. On a set breakout play, Seth Jones found Max Domi flanked at the far blue line. Domi, who was stationary, became an intermediary in the play. Dalpe, who recognized that the Lightning would adjust to the diagonal pass from Jones, sprinted through the middle of the ice. A split second later, Domi feathered a pass to Dalpe, who was able to redirect the puck past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
After the goal, Victor Hedman, arguably the best defenseman in the NHL, looked perplexed that Dalpe was somehow unguarded.
PLAY #2: ROSLOVIC CASHES IN ON TURNOVER
The Blue Jackets have been victimized all season on goals like the one Jack Roslovic scored on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets dumped the puck in, basically wagering that the Lightning would fail to break the puck out of their zone cleanly, thus leading to offensive zone time for the home team.
Upon retrieval, Vasilevskiy flipped the puck to defenseman Ben Thomas, who was playing just his second career game. Unable to settle the puck cleanly, Thomas was immediately attacked by Cam Atkinson. The puck bounced into the low slot, where Roslovic was all alone to corral the loose puck. He wasted no time, shoveling the puck above Vasilevskiy's shoulder but under the crossbar. For a team that has been plagued by turnovers all season, it was nice to see them rewarded on the other end of the ice.
PLAY #3: A BIG SAVE FROM KORPISALO
To beat a team like the Lightning, eventually, your goalie is going to have to make a big save. Just minutes after Roslovic's goal to pad the lead to 2-0, Joonas Korpisalo delivered that save, robbing Alex Killorn from in tight on a 2-on-1 play.
The breakdown occurred when David Savard got caught pinching at the blue line outside of the faceoff dots and no forward was available to back him up. Anthony Cirelli drew in Vladislav Garvikov, then poked the puck over to Killorn, who was in a prime scoring area in the middle of the ice. Korpisalo read the play perfectly, pushing hard to get square and at the top of his crease, taking away Killorn's angle. He then flashed the leather, keeping the game scoreless. A period later, the Blue Jackets would score the 3-0 goal, all but icing the game. But this save was critical in preserving the win for the Blue Jackets.
H/t to SpecmenceCBJ for the videos.