Three Things: Back To The Drawing Board, Dean Kukan Returns Amid A Wild Second Period, Penalty Kill Reignites Struggling Bolts' Power Play

By Will Chase on January 4, 2022 at 10:03 pm
Corey Perry scores to put the Tampa Bay Lightning up 3-0 in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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It was the continuation of a storm surge at Nationwide Arena.

On Tuesday night the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning in the teams' first matchup since the 2020 playoffs in the Toronto bubble.

While both teams look different, and the Lightning entered the game on a three-game losing streak, they're still potent and as robust a contender as there is in the league as Jon Cooper's club goes for the Stanley Cup three-peat.

As if any reminder was needed, the Blue Jackets found that out.

Already shorthanded due to players dealing with injuries and illness (both COVID and non-COVID) the Blue Jackets knew they had another tough opponent ahead of them as they concluded the brief three-game homestand.

In what was Jakub Voracek's 999th game, Joonas Korpisalo (29 saves on 36 shots) made his first start since Nov. 27 opposing Andrei Vasilevskiy (20 of 22) as the Lightning took this one 7-2.


Back To Basics

After the way things went in the 7-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year's Day, it was quite evident where things need to improve.

Brad Larsen took the blame for his team not being as prepared as they could have been in practices. As a result, the team went back to basics on Monday, as they look to be more competitive with player on player and puck battles.

So would things be different tonight? Eh.

Ondrej Palat scored twice in the opening period as part of a three-point night. His second goal of the first period occurred upon exiting the penalty box when the Blue Jackets failed to convert on their only first period chance. 

Corey Perry – remember him? – scored on the second power play chance of the game for the Lightning to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0.

This meant the Blue Jackets have been outscored 10-0 since the start of Saturday's second period to this point.

Basically, this is just another tough lesson for a young team against a very good team.


Kukan Cookin' Wild 2nd

The Blue Jackets lead the NHL with five wins when trailing after two periods. Dean Kukan tried to reverse the fortune after scoring his first goal of the season 37 seconds into period two.

Adam Boqvist and Gus Nyquist assisted.

Kukan was in for Zach Werenski who went on COVID protocol on Tuesday. However, the Lightning answered right back 59 seconds later to make it 4-1 on Brayden Point's goal. Point also had two assists.

Kukan hasn't seen much action, only playing in his third game of the season after dealing with a wrist injury. Nyquist had a two-point night, scoring a goal to cut the deficit to two on his seventh of the season. Vladislav Gavrikov and Peeke assisted on Nyquist's seventh goal of the season. 

Boone Jenner just missed making it a 4-3 game on a two-on-one chance that turned into an open net but he couldn't put it through. 

Patrick Maroon made it 5-2 on the Lightning's third power play goal. The goal occurred following a penalty to Jenner, which went back to the sequence in which he missed out on a two-on-one chance.

All total, a four-goal second period for both teams. Some good news, as Oliver Bjorkstrand returned from COVID protocol, leading the way for Columbus with four shots.


Penalty Kill Struggles

The Blue Jackets allowed three power play goals to the Lightning on four chances, which was essentially the difference. Surprisingly, the Lightning entered play tied for 19th in the NHL with an 18.1 power play conversion rate.

That number has since improved.

Conversely, the Blue Jackets penalty kill came in tied for 20th with the Lightning (79%) and will plummet.

You just can't give multiple chances to loaded and stacked teams. While Columbus was 3-for-3 on the kill against Carolina on Saturday, they went 4-for-10 on the three-game homestand against the Nashville Predators, Hurricanes, and Lightning. 

The Predators and Hurricanes are both inside the top 10 on the power play and we don't have to remind you how lethal the Lightning are, even if they came in ranking towards the lower half of the league.


Home-And-Home

The Blue Jackets will play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday at 7 pm EST. It will be part of a home-and-home as both teams play Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets defeated the Devils 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 31 in New Jersey. New Jersey lost to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday 5-3.

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