The Columbus Blue Jackets knew the margin of error would be thin.
A pair of first period goals propelled the Tampa Bay Lightning to an easy, 4-0 win at Amalie Arena, their fifth consecutive win over the Blue Jackets.
The loss hurts in the standings, too, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals both won to extend their lead in the Metropolitan Division.
At points in tonight's game, Columbus carried play. The Blue Jackets outshot the Lightning 17-3 in the second period, but couldn't solve Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The home team scored four goals on 19 shots before Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled from action, mercifully, at the midway point of the third period. On October 13, the Blue Jackets lost 8-2 to these same Lightning in Tampa Bay, and Bobrovsky was left in for all eight goals.
Brayden Point (2-1-3), Nikita Kucherov (1-1-2), and Tyler Johnson (0-2-2) led the way for the star-studded Lightning. Kucherov's 71 points lead the NHL, and his first period assist made him just the 10th different player in NHL history to accumulate 50 assists within his team's first 43 games of a season.
The Blue Jackets entire top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cam Atkinson finished the game with a -3 rating.
Brandon Dubinsky (lower body injury) and Markus Hannikainen (upper body injruy) were both injured in the second period and did not return. Scott Harrington remains out due to an illness.
Columbus head home and on Thursday night will welcome their old Western Conference rivals, the Nashville Predators, and old friend Ryan Johansen to Nationwide Arena.
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