Qualifying Round Victory Would Give Columbus Blue Jackets Date with Tampa Bay Lightning

By Chris Pennington on August 9, 2020 at 9:00 am
Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates scoring an empty-net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period during game four of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It's nice to have a better idea of the stakes, right?

If the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in Game 5 of the NHL Qualifying Round series, we know their next opponent. It will be none other than their rival and victim from last year's postseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This answer in thanks to the Philadelphia Flyers' 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in the final game of the Round-Robin tournament (including the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference). The Flyers, who locked in the No. 1 seed, are now confirmed to play the Montreal Canadiens (who were the lowest seed in the East) and the Lightning will face the winner of the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs elimination game.

And now that the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals have polished off their final games too, it is confirmed that the Capitals will take on the New York Islanders and the Bruins will take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Last year, the Blue Jackets took down the then-Presidents'-Trophy-winning Lightning in hilarious sweeping fashion, one of the greatest upsets in modern league history. Surely the Bolts will be looking for vengeance of that embarrassing first-round outing if they were to take on our boys in blue.

On the season series, the Lightning took the only game by a score of 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 20 at Nationwide Arena. The remaining regular season games between the two Eastern Conference teams were canceled due to the COVID-19 break.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet, though. The Blue Jackets have a tall task ahead of them in a do-or-die game tonight against a Toronto team who is feeling high-and-mighty after a late three-goal comeback on Thursday evening in Game 4. Getting past the Maple Leafs for a date with the Lightning won't be simple.

The NHL's Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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