Joonas Korpisalo looked mortal at times, the Blue Jackets squandered their opportunities – of which there weren't many — and the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged victorious to take a 2–1 series lead Saturday night in the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.
The Jackets couldn't overcome a sluggish final two periods, and while they did make a push early in the final frame, it wouldn't be enough as the Lightning took Game 3 by a score of 3-2.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seemed to think fatigue was finally a factor for a team that has skated the equivalent of 10 games over the last 13 days.
“Give them credit,” Tortorella said. “But we've been teetering there as far as what's going to go on with our guys because we've played quite a lot of hockey. It wasn't one person. It was a whole group of men who struggled tonight.”
Columbus came out on fire and the first period, peppering the Lightning with shots, even racing out to a 9-2 advantage early, and then found themselves on a 5-on-3 advantage thanks to a tripping penalty to Zach Bogosian just seven minutes into the game and a slashing call on Blake Coleman 34 seconds later.
The Jackets got three good shots two-man advantage, the best of which was a slick pass from Seth Jones to Emil Bemstrom below the circle that saw the Swede hit the post.
Crisis averted, the Lightning seemed to take over the game midway through the first and went up 1-0 with 4:12 to play hen Alex Killorn beat Korpisalo on a backhander to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
That score would hold heading into the first intermission with the Blue Jackets taking a 10-8 shots advantage into the break.
Riley Nash tied the game just 1:49 into the second period, beating Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy with a laser high and glove side.
From there, Tampa Bay put the clamps on and got a goal from Brayden Point at 14:16 of the second to make it 2-1.
They weren't done there. With just over a minute remaining in the second, Victor Hedman scored on a wrist shot that Korpisalo would no doubt like another crack at.
Down 3-1 after two, the Blue Jackets knew they had to come out hot in the third period. They certainly did. At 1:37 of the third, Eric Robinson buried his own rebound to cut the Lightning lead to one goal.
Unfortunately, that was as close as the Jackets would get as the Lightning held the Blue Jackets to just two shots over the final 18 minutes of the final period. In all, Tampa Bay outshot Columbus, 34-17, and held the Jackets to a combined seven shots over the final 40 minutes of hockey.
Just 11 Blue Jackets registered a shot on goal in Game 3. Among that group, only Jones (4), Dubois (2), Texier (2), and Foudy (2) registered more than one shot.
“We just didn't seem to have it,” Seth Jones said after the game. “It must've been one of those games. We'll have a good practice tomorrow and be ready for the next game.”
- The Blue Jackets fell to 5-2 against the Lightning all-time in the playoffs (2–1 at home) with Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Game 3.
- Columbus fell to 1–3 in one-goal games in the 2020 playoffs. The team led the NHL in one-goal games played and wins in 2019-20 with 43 and 20 respectively (20–8–15).
- The winning team has scored at least three goals in 17 of the last 19 contests of the series, including all seven playoff meetings between the clubs.
- Columbus fell to 2–2 in Game 3 all-time when splitting the first two games of a playoff series (1–1 in 2020 postseason).
- CBJ failed to score a first period goal for the first time in the last five contests.
- The Blue Jackets killed off the Lightning’s lone power-play attempt in Game 3 and have killed off all seven penalties in the series. The club has not allowed a power-play goal in four-straight playoff games dating back to Game 5 against the Maple Leafs.
- Columbus has killed off all opponent power-play attempts in six of the eight games in the postseason (18-of-20; 90.0 pct.).
- LW ERIC ROBINSON was the 12th different Columbus player to score a postseason goal this year. Only Vegas (14) and Calgary (13) feature more players with at least one goal during the 2020 playoffs. The goal was Robinson's first career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal.
- G JOONAS KORPISALO turned aside 31-of-34 shots (.918) but fell to 3–3 in the postseason. He has denied 152-of-159 Tampa Bay shots in the series through the first three games (.956 SV%).
- C RILEY NASH notched the first multi-point effort of his playoffs career with a goal and an assist. He had two multi-point efforts during the 2019-20 regular season. He got the Blue Jackets on the board with his second career postseason goal (Game 2 at TBL in 2019 ECQF).
- LW GUS NYQUIST set up the Blue Jackets' first goal of the game for his second point of the postseason. He also collected an assist in Game 5 vs. Toronto.
- C ALEXANDER WENNBERG recorded a point for the second-straight game (1-1-2) with a third period assist.
- C PIERRE LUC-DUBOIS won 15 of his 20 faceoffs (75.0 pct.). He has won 50 percent or more of his draws in five-straight games (55-of-90; 61.1 pct.).
Cam Atkinson and Elvis Merzlikins missed Game 3. Both were deemed "unfit to play."
The Blue Jackets will not practice tomorrow and will be back on the ice to take on the Lightning in Game 4 on Monday afternoon. Puck drop is slated for 3 p.m.