If this were a seven-game series (it's not!), the Tampa Bay Lightning just won Game 7.
Unfortunately, these games don't hold near such significance for the Blue Jackets, who are finishing out a disappointing season just about as you'd expect.
In the seventh of eight games in their season series, the Lightning patiently waited for the Blue Jackets to give them opportunities. They didn't need much, and two goals in the third period were enough for Tampa Bay to pull away for a 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets, their fourth in seven tries over Columbus in 2020-21.
It's the eighth straight loss (0-7-1) for the Blue Jackets.
After a slow start, Columbus found something. Seth Jones opened the scoring with a power play goal early in the game, and the Blue Jackets carried that 1-0 lead into the second period.
The Blue Jackets followed their Tampa blueprint, with tight checking and not a lot of risks, but the dam broke in the second period. Blake Coleman scored on a turnover in the neutral zone to tie the game, 1-1, a goal that Elvis Merzlikins should have had.
Another defensive miscue resulted in the go-ahead goal for Ondrej Palat in the third period, and after a brief discussion, John Tortorella opted not to challenge for goaltender interference–despite a stick to Merzlikins' helmet from Alex Killorn. The Blue Jackets treaded water for most of the third period and had limited opportunities–you've heard this before–and decided to roll the dice and get Merzlikins out of the net with just under three minutes to play.
Boone Jenner remains on injured reserve, as does Zach Werenski. Neither player is expected to return this season.
The Blue Jackets and Lightning conclude this two-game series on Sunday night at Amalie Arena. It's a 7 p.m. puck drop on national television, shown on NBC Sports Network.