The NHL is set up with another exciting slate of games on Saturday. Four games will be up on the board throughout August 15. One of these matchups will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams have met in back to back great matchups, which should give another intense one on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay finished out the regular season with a record of 43-21-6, which had them in second place of the Eastern Conference. The Lightning won two of their three games in the round robin, which helped them keep that second seed in the East. The Lightning are all tied up with Columbus, who knocked them out last season in the first round. Tampa Bay will look to earn a big Game 3 to earn the leg up in the series.
The Blue Jackets earned a record of 33-22-15 throughout the regular season, which had them in ninth place of the Eastern Conference. Columbus met up with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Qualifying round and were able to move on in a tough five game series. The Blue Jackets now have tied up this series and will look to earn the advantage with a win on Saturday night.
These two teams have met in some memorable games in this series already. These two teams also met in last season’s first round, where Columbus swept the President Trophy winners. Now Tampa Bay is looking for some revenge this time around. The Blue Jackets have looked good in this series and I expect another tight matchup on August 15.
These two teams met up one time during the regular season in Columbus on February 10. Nikita Kucherov opened up the scoring for the Lightning. Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it up to force overtime, but it was not enough. Kucherov scored his second in overtime to lead Tampa Bay to the win. Curtis McElhinney stopped 31 of the 32 shots against him in the 2-1 win.
The first game of this series was back on August 11 and it was insane. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist to help give the Blue Jackets the lead through two periods. Yanni Gourde tied it up to force overtime. Brayden Point scored his second of the game in fifth overtime to give the Lightning the 3-2 win. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 85 of 88 shots, while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 61 of 63 in the extended game.
The second game of this series was on August 13. Nikita Kucherov opened up the scoring for the Lightning in the first period, but Ryan Murray and Oliver Bjorkstrand helped the Blue Jackets recapture the lead. Alexander Wennberg scored in the third to ice it, while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 36 of 37 shots to help lead Columbus to a 3-1 win.
The Blue Jackets showed tremendous resiliency in Game 2 of this series. Columbus was down early, after losing in fifth overtime and still came back to win it. The Blue Jackets will look to help out Korpisalo some more in this series as it goes along. Tampa Bay has to find an answer to Columbus’ game or else they are looking at another first round exit.
Tampa Bay had a strong special team unit throughout the regular season. The Lightning were able to capitalize on 23.2 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 81.4 percent of the penalties against them. Tampa Bay has not done as well in the playoffs though. The Lightning have a power play percentage of 18.2 and a penalty kill rate of 84.2 percent in the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets struggled on the power play throughout the regular season. Columbus scored on 16.4 percent of their power play opportunities this season. The Blue Jackets penalty kill was able to hold off opponent’s 81.7 percent of the time. In the playoffs, Columbus has a power play rate of 9.1 percent and an 89.5 percent penalty kill.
The Lightning have the edge in this matchup on special teams. Columbus has scored on the power play in each of the first two games of this series. If the Blue Jackets can use their penalty kill to slow down Tampa Bay and continue to find goals on the power play, it could give them an edge. The Lightning will look to flip the switch on special teams in this one though.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in net for the Lightning on Saturday night. Vasilevskiy finished out the regular season with a record of 35-14-3. He put up a save percentage of .917 and a 2.56 GAA throughout those starts. In the playoffs, Vasilevskiy has earned a .931 save percentage and a GAA of 1.84.
Joonas Korpisalo will get the nod in the crease for the Blue Jackets in Game 3 of this series. Korpisalo finished out the regular season with a record of 19-12-5. He posted a .911 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA. Korpisalo has put up a save percentage of .962 and a GAA of 1.29 throughout his starts in the postseason.
Both of these goalies have put up unreal numbers to this point in the playoffs. A lot of these numbers have been bumped up from Game 1, but both goalies have still done really well through the playoffs. I expect both goalies to keep up the strong play in Game 3. Whichever team can get the first goal in this one, could have a serious edge in the matchup.
These two teams have met in a great series so far with it being tied at 1-1. I expect another solid one on Saturday night as these two teams meet. Tampa Bay needs to find an answer to Columbus in this one, while the Blue Jackets will look to ride some momentum from Game 2. The Lightning have not had a lot of great chances in this series and if Columbus keeps this up, they could take a 2-1 series lead.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -178 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 64 percent of the time. This series is tied and has been close throughout, which makes this line seem wrong. The Blue Jackets have stalled Tampa Bay’s offense all series long and I believe they could do it again to win Game 3.