A well-oiled machine.
That sums up the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning.
With three games remaining in the Columbus Blue Jackets' regular season, they were in Tampa to battle the Lightning for a home-and-home matchup starting at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night.
Brendan Gaunce draws in with Kuraly out while Gabriel Carlsson comes out with Werenski going in. #CBJ centers tonight will be Roslovic, Sillinger, Danforth and Gaunce.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) April 26, 2022
As the Blue Jackets surely knew, it was going to be tough.
Winners of three straight, the Lightning had eight power play goals in 14 chances in their last three games, including scoring at least six goals in each game, and eight in two of those wins.
The machine kept on rolling.
Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had four-point nights. Kucherov had one goal to go with three assists while Stamkos had two goals and two assists. Ondrei Palat scored in the third period for the Lightning as Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves in the Lightning's 4-1 win.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored for the Blue Jackets. Elvis Merzlikins made 28 saves.
Kucherov started the scoring only 1:37 into the game with the first shot of the game going past Merzlikins. The goal is Kucherov's 24th as he had five points (two goals, three assists) in his last game and now has a seven-game point streak (nine goals, 11 assists). Assists went to Nick Paul and Steven Stamkos, who delivered the feed for the primary helper.
Nikita Kucherov extended his goal streak to six games, dating to April 14. There are only three longer stretches in @TBLightning history: Brian Bradley (8 GP in 1992-93), Steven Stamkos (7 GP in 2009-10) and Kucherov himself (7 GP in 2017-18).#NHLStats: https://t.co/lO30qzNbV2 https://t.co/c8VbQuMTzm— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 24, 2022
The Blue Jackets earned a power play and scored at 2:59 on Bjorkstrand's 26th.
Jack Roslovic stayed hot with the assist and Werenski earned the assist in his return to the lineup. The point gives Werenski a career-high 48 points, third-most for a Blue Jackets defenseman. The Blue Jackets have power play goals in their last four games (4-for-12).
Werenski left the first period after taking a puck off the nose but returned, as did Andrew Peeke who also took a puck to the head. Nick Blankenburg left but also returned.
Erik Cernak takes a deflected puck in the face and goes to the Lightning locker room. Then Zach Werenski takes one in the face and goes to the #CBJ room.— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) April 26, 2022
The power play for the Lightning remained relentless when Stamkos earned his second point of the first period on his 38th goal of the season. Kucherov picked up his second point and Victor Hedman also picked up the assist.
A big night for Stamkos continued to grow into the second period.
At 7:29, Stamkos' second goal of the game gave him 39 on the season. Kucherov picked up another point with the assist.
In the third period, Palat scored his 18th at 14:53 with Stamkos and Kucherov each picking up their fourth points on the night with assists.
Kucherov waited patiently behind the net before delivering the feed to Palat, who has five goals—two goals as part of a three-point game on Jan. 4—in the last four games against the Blue Jackets dating back to the 2020-21 season. He has eight points (five goals, three assists) over that span. Stamkos has a career-high 101 points.
- Shots: 23-15 Lightning
- Hits: 31-29 Blue Jackets
- Faceoff Wins: 22-22
- Blocked Shots: 20-6 Lightning
- Power Play: Blue Jackets 1-for-3, Lightning 1-for-2
- Steven Stamkos led the game with seven shots on goal
- Brayden Point led the game with five blocked shots; Ryan McDonagh had four while Cal Foote and Victor Hedman had three
- Nick Blankenburg led the game with eight hits
- Blue Jackets Assistant Equipment Manager, Jason Stypinksi, worked his 1500th professional game
The Blue Jackets (36-37-7, 79 points) wrap up their series with the Lightning (50-22-8, 108 points) on Thursday from Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are 0-2-0 against the Lightning this season. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm ET.