Columbus will now look to keep it rolling, but they have to be careful as the Bolts will come out with all they got in this one.
While some fans eventually walked down the Tampa Riverwalk to cheer the Tampa Bay Lightning on in person, others stayed at The Curt to watch the Bolts squander a three-goal, first period lead en route to losing their series opener, 4-3, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Tomas Hertl added an empty-net goal and Martin Jones made 24 saves to get San Jose started off right in this series heading into Game 2 on Friday night. "Nothing is going to get easier".
The Columbus Blue Jackets were hot down the stretch of the regular season and they rode that momentum to steal a 1-0 lead in this series.
The Lightning, who won the Presidents' Trophy and tied an National Hockey League single-season record with 62 wins, led 3-0 after one period on goals by Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde. Josh Anderson picked up a short-handed goal that tied it at 3 at 11:54. Sergei Bobrovsky has given up three goals on 29 shots faced.
Tampa Bay will win that series in 6 games. If anything we learned a lesson tonight.
Nikita Kucherov topped off an incredible season by taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after recording 13 goals and 31 points.
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And although Tavares has been legitimately great in Toronto, posting career highs in goals (47) and points (88), the Leafs were unable to surpass both the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Boston Bruins in the ridiculously competitive Atlantic Division standings this season. New York's stingy defense earned the Jennings Trophy by allowing the fewest goals in the league this season. During the 82-game regular season, Tampa lost only 16 games and only lost back to back games twice this season. We shall see. Scoring in the loss was Alex Killorn, which was his 19th of the year, Anthony Cirelli, which was his 20th, and Yanni Gourde, which was his 23rd. "Just the grind of the game".
"We've had a couple of those where they score the winning goal in the last two minutes", forward Patrik Laine said. A Lightning turnover in the offensive zone led to Nick Foligno's breakaway goal, getting Columbus on the board.
Bobrovsky stopped four shots over the final 40 seconds of the second, including a nifty glove save on Steven Stamkos.
"If there is a clear takeaway from the NHL's regular season", Greenberg writes, "it's that not much separates a number of this year's playoff teams".
"I don't know if it's a wake-up call, but we know it's a tough league to win in and we want to be better when we're up 3-0", Hedman said. Tampa Bay has gone 32-10 here at home for the year and they have averaged 4.00 gpg and have allowed 2.52 gpg in those games. RW Ryan Callahan and D Braydon Coburn were among Tampa Bay's healthy scratches. The Bruins and Flames both finished with 107 points, and you can't sleep on unsafe teams like the Jets, Predators, Penguins, and the defending champion Capitals, among others. "So, that's why it's always up for grabs".
The highly anticipated match-up between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs did not disappoint as four of the six games ended in dramatic sudden death overtime with the series victor coming off the stick of Brad Marchand.
Tampa Bay had well over 90 percent of bets on them, as they went from -210 and closed at -245 for Game 1.