The NHL is set up with another great night of action on January 23. Five games are up on the board throughout Saturday. One of those games will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams have had opposite starts to this season, but will look for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 2:00 PM Eastern time on NHL Network.
Tampa Bay has started off this season with a record of 3-0-0, which has them sitting in first place of the Central Division. The Lightning have had a solid start to this season, but are looking to keep it going in this one. Tampa Bay was able to win the first game of the season series against Columbus and will look to sweep the first small series with a win in this one.
The Blue Jackets have put up a record of 1-2-2 throughout the early portion of this season, which has them sitting in sixth place of the Central Division. Columbus has lost back to back games coming into this one, with their only win being against the Detroit Red Wings this season. The Blue Jackets will look to get back in the win column in this one.
These two teams have had opposite starts to the new campaign, but this should be an exciting matchup on Saturday afternoon. These two teams will look to keep the rivalry going after meeting in the last two postseasons. If either team can come out hot in this one, it could be enough to propel that team to a big win in this meeting.
The Lightning and the Blue Jackets met up once throughout last season. Columbus hosted the game on February 10. Nikita Kucherov opened up the scoring in the first period. Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it up in the second, which led to overtime. Kucherov scored again in the overtime period to give Tampa Bay the 2-1 win. Brayden Point had two assists as well in the win.
Tampa Bay and Columbus also met up in the first round of the playoffs. The first game was a five overtime thriller, where the Lightning finished with a back breaking 3-2 win. The Blue Jackets bounced back with a 3-1 win to tie up the series. Tampa Bay won three straight games though to eliminate Columbus in route to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The first meeting of this season’s series was on Thursday night. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, which helped lead to overtime. Ryan McDonagh had two assists in regulation as the Lightning scored twice in the second period. Brayden Point had a goal in overtime to give Tampa Bay the win. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 23 of 25 shots as Tampa Bay won 3-2.
The Lightning have won six of the last seven games against Columbus including the postseason. Tampa Bay was swept by the Blue Jackets two seasons ago in the postseason, which has helped lead the Lightning on this dominant run. Columbus will look to get some revenge after last playoffs loss though with a win at home in this one.
Tampa Bay’s power play has been solid to open up this season, but their penalty kill has struggled at times. The Lightning’s power play has scored on 2 of their 8 opportunities, which is a 25 percent power play. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill has killed off 8 of 11 power play attempts by opposing teams, which is a 72.7 percent kill rate.
The Blue Jackets have not gotten much going on the power play this season, but their penalty kill has been dominant. Columbus has capitalized on 1 of their 11 power play chances, which is a 9.1 percent success rate. The Blue Jackets have given up 1 goal on 10 power play opportunities, which is good for a 90 percent penalty kill.
These two teams match up well on special teams. Tampa Bay’s power play has been strong, but they will have to break through on the Blue Jackets penalty kill. The Lightning’s penalty kill has struggled, but so has Columbus’ power play. If either team can get going on the power play in this one, it could be enough to give them the win. The Blue Jackets have done a good job staying out of the box this season and they will look to keep that up.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the start in the crease for Tampa Bay in this one. Vasilevskiy has started all three of the Lightning’s games, earning a 3-0 record. He has posted a save percentage of .941 and a 1.65 GAA through those starts. Vasilevskiy stopped 23 of 25 shots in the last meeting with the Blue Jackets. Tampa Bay will look to keep up this run in this meeting.
I expect Joonas Korpisalo to get the nod in the net for the Blue Jackets in this one. Korpisalo has started in three games this season, earning a record of 1-1-1. He has put up a .935 save percentage and a GAA of 2.34 through his starts. In his last game, Korpisalo stopped 34 of 37 shots in the overtime loss to the Lightning. Columbus will need him to keep up this play if they want to get out of this funk.
These two goalies have had really strong starts to the new season, which should lead to another exciting battle on Saturday afternoon. Vasilevskiy has faced less shots throughout the early portion of this season, which the Blue Jackets will look to change. If Columbus can put a lot of pressure on him early, they could break through on Tampa Bay’s goaltender.
The Blue Jackets have not looked great to open up this season and Pierre-Luc Dubois getting benched in Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay does not make it look any better. Dubois is out again in this one, but I think the Blue Jackets will look rally without him. Columbus lost a tough one in overtime on Thursday night and I think they will come out fast as they look to earn their second win of the season.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -156 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 60.9 percent of the time. Tampa Bay has been strong to open up this season, but I think that the Blue Jackets can pull off the upset in this one. As a big underdog in this one, I really like the value in Columbus to win on Thursday night.