In the National Hockey League right now it feels like there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, then everybody else.
Tampa Bay Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 39 of 40 shots on goal, including all 20 he faced in the first 20 minutes of action.
Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella had this to say afterwards:
I’m frustrated for the team…Our first period is probably our best period of hockey we’ve played all year long.
Even an impressive 1st-period effort saw the home team facing a 2-0 deficit, thanks to two breakaway goals from Nikita Kucherov, who added three more assists later in the game to amp up his point total to a whopping 99 this season.
Back-to-back penalties late in the second period led to a 5-on-3 goal from Steven Stamkos followed by a power-play goal from Brayden Point 12 seconds into the third period to put the road team up 4-0. It got worse for Columbus 34 seconds later, with Point scoring again to put the Bolts up 5-0.
Lukas Sedlak ended the shutout bid with 1:45 remaining in regulation. Before that goal, Vasilevskiy had gone 183 consecutive minutes without allowing a puck into the back of the net.
The 5-1 loss might sting a little bit for the Jackets, who lost each of their three matchups with the Lightning this season, being outscored cumulatively by a final of 17-3.
While the game as a whole won’t be one to remember, 22-year old Kole Sherwood and 23-year-old Eric Robinson seemed to not only be getting a little more comfortable, but also making a noticeable impact while on the ice.
Sherwood became the first player from Columbus, Ohio to make a start for the CBJ at Nationwide Arena. He had two shots, six hits and registered a rating of plus- 1 in 11:33 of ice time.
Robinson, who made his debut with the club last season, was showing off his speed throughout the game. He got three shots on goal in the contest and had an impressive ice time of 14:55.
There’s a real debate of whether or not the CBJ should take a run at the cup or be sellers at the trade deadline.
On one hand, the team is an impressive 18-9-1 away from home and could enter the postseason with a formidable top line along with stud defenseman Seth Jones.
On the other hand, if the team gets younger again, Torts could have the freedom to give young players and newcomers plenty of ice time, developing a team that could be set up for success for a large window of time.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, Ryan Murray left the game with some sort of upper-body injury. There is no further information, but he will not be traveling with the team to Montreal for tomorrow’s game.
After a 5-1 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus won’t have much time to think things over, with a road matchup against the Montreal Canadiens coming up on Tuesday night.