Looks like Game 1 wasn't a fluke.
The Columbus Blue Jackets got after it early and often tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and had Presidents' Trophy winners were chasing play all night long. Just like that, the Blue Jackets – who came into this series as massive underdogs – find themselves taking a 2-0 series lead back to Columbus.
Matt Duchene found the scoresheet on the first three Columbus goals, starting with his primary assist just 5:17 into the game. Duchene made a crisp pass from the boards and found Cam Atkinson to give Columbus a 1-0 lead.
Duchene added another primary assist later in the period, as he won a face-off back to Zach Werenski on a power play and Werenski absolutely ripped the puck home to make it 2-0 Blue Jackets.
That power play wasn't done yet – and neither was Duchene. Perhaps the biggest Blue Jackets trade deadline acquisition in franchise history, Duchene did precisely what general manager Jarmo Kekalainen acquired him to do, finding the back of the net to make it 3-0 on a rebound.
As the Blue Jackets showed on Wednesday, though, a 3-0 lead in this series is far from insurmountable. Tampa Bay got one back early in the third period courtesy of Mikhail Sergachev. But Tampa had no answer for the Blue Jackets' secret weapon: Riley Damn Nash.
Things are clearly going well when Riley Nash is ripping shots like that one, folks.
Artemi Panarin made it 5-1 on one of the most beautiful goals you'll ever see – thanks to yet another Duchene primary assist – to put the Bolts to bed.
The Blue Jackets now find themselves with a 2-0 series lead over what's been called the best team of the cap era. They'll also have home ice for the next two games. And judging by Tampa Bay's short-fused temperament tonight, Columbus also has some spacious real estate in their heads.
Buckle up, Columbus.
Ryan Murray and Adam McQuaid's statuses are both still up in the air, as they've both missed extended time with injuries now. The Blue Jackets are reportedly about to sign Vladislav Gavrikov, who will be playoff eligible, and should shore up the defensive corps.
Game 3. Sunday. Nationwide Arena. Enough said.