Folks, we just witnessed history.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did the unthinkable, sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the first team in NHL history to sweep the Presidents' Trophy winner in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The win also clinched the first ever playoff series win in Blue Jackets franchise history.
The Blue Jackets were dominant from the opening faceoff. On the first shift, Oliver Bjorkstrand drew an offensive zone penalty with a fantastic second effort. On the ensuing power play, Alexandre Texier scored his first career playoff goal, on a beautiful setup from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones.
Minutes later, Dubois jumped on a loose puck off an Artemi Panarin scoring chance, banking the puck off Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net. Bjorkstrand and Adam Clendening picked up the assists on the goal.
Midway through the period, Jones turned made an uncharacteristic turnover, and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos picked up the loose puck, dangled around a sprawled Nick Foligno and Zach Werenski, and beat Sergei Bobrovsky over his glove.
The Blue Jackets thought they had extended their lead to 3-1 on a Cam Atkinson power play goal, but Tampa Bay challenged the play for offside, and replay determined that Werenski had in fact pulled the puck a hair offside.
In the second period, Jones scored after an incredible shift of sustained pressure in the offensive zone gassed the Lightning. Matt Duchene found Atkinson, who slid the puck over to Jones, who blasted home a slapshot over Vasilevskiy's shoulder.
The 3-1 lead evaporated, despite the Blue Jackets' constant chances to build on their lead. Cedric Paquette and Brayden Point scored in the second half of the period to tie the game at 3-3. But the Blue Jackets showed their resilience. Less than a minute after Point's power play goal, Bjorkstrand scored on a sublime Dubois/Panarin combination passing play on a delayed penalty.
Bobrovsky made several key saves to keep the Lightning at bay, slamming the door shut on Paquette win just under four minutes to go in regulation. With Vasilevskiy pulled, a brilliant hustle play by Anderson allowed Panarin to score an empty-net goal, restoring the two-goal lead. Seconds later, Texier added another empty net tally for his second goal of the game. Duchene, who was excellent throughout the game, added another empty-net goal with just nine seconds to go.
Defenseman Markus Nutivaara remained out of the lineup with an upper-body injury. Both Adam McQuaid and Ryan Murray have been skating, but the status of either's return is unknown.
The Blue Jackets become the first team to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and await the winner of the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs.