It has to be go time for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Columbus. They botched Game 1 and 2, as they allowed the Blue Jackets to enter Tampa and take control of the best-of-seven series. The Lightning are going to have to do the same thing that the Washington Capitals did a season ago. Washington erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Jackets, 4 games to 2. The rest was history for the Capitals, as they overcame a first-round hiccup to win the Stanley Cup against the Golden Knights.
The Lightning don’t have to look back very far to be reminded that this series is still very much alive. However, they’re also at a disadvantage because the Blue Jackets are going to be better aware this time around, or at least, you have to believe so. John Tortorella is a fiery head coach who is going to let them know all about what happened last season. Some of these guys weren’t with the Jackets year, notably their trade deadline acquisitions like Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, but he’s still going to let them know.
This is a better Blue Jackets team than last season as well. They didn’t have the services of the three guys acquired at the deadline. It’s still a questionable move with respects to the future in Columbus, but it is paying off right now. Columbus didn’t just catch fire in Tampa, they won seven of their last eight games to reach the playoffs, so playing well didn’t just happen overnight.
They were essentially in a playoff series with the Canadiens for the last two weeks of the regular season. And that was going to be the one variable that was going to allow Columbus success in this series. Meanwhile, Tampa had zero pressure on them for pretty much the entire season. We’ll see if the Jackets keep the momentum going at Nationwide Arena on Sunday. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Game 3 pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Game 3 Pick
Game 1 was enough of a surprise, with the Lightning blowing a 3-goal lead and then losing 4-3 in regulation. Columbus erased a 3-1 lead in the 3rd with 3 unanswered markers to go ahead. Even Tortorella was a little shocked on the bench. The Lightning are going to be down an integral part of their team in Game 3. Nikita Kucherov is suspended after a check from behind in Game 2.
There was speculation that he was going to get a longer suspension than that, so the Lightning may have dodged a bullet with that one. If they lose tonight it may be a moot point, because it’s going to be extremely difficult to win four straight games against the Jackets.
Winning games on the road hasn’t been an issue for Tampa this season. They were about just as good on the road as they were at home. It didn’t matter where they were playing, the Lightning could win games in the regular season. Tampa finished the regular season with a record of 30-9-2 on the road and won their last game here in February by a score of 5-1.
In fact, the Lightning are winners in three straight games in Columbus by a combined score of 12-1. They’re also 6-1 in their previous seven against at Nationwide Arena. The Lightning can win here, but they are going to have to disrupt the energy of the home crowd early. If the Blue Jackets get ahead by 2 goals in the 1st like in Game 2, this game could be over quickly. However, expect the Lightning to come out flying around like the Bruins did last night. Sign me up for the Lightning to get right back in this series with a win in Game 3 on Sunday.