Last night in Toronto, The Lightning played their best game of the young series in smothering the Blue Jackets in the 3-2 win.
The Lightning leads the series two games to one with game four Monday afternoon in Toronto.
The Lightning jumping out to an early 1-0 lead and forced the Blue Jackets to try to play catch up the rest of the game.
The Jackets play a different style of hockey when they are playing from behind. That played to the advantage of the Lightning.
Alex Killorn gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at the 15:48 mark of the first period. The Lightning would never trail the rest of the way.
The Lightning got into some trouble with penalties in the first period, as they took four and gave the Jackets four power plays. The Jackets generated seven shots on goal, but Vasilevskiy made the stops to preserve the Lightning lead.
This Lightning defense played a textbook game on how to keep the Blue Jackets bottled up.
The Jackets finished with 17 shots on goal for the game allowing Columbus just 10 shots the rest of the game over the final 45-50 minutes.
On the effective penalty kill, Cooper said that it gave the Lightning a lift. “That was probably the turning point in the game. You go down one there, and I’m not saying we wouldn’t have come back, but it’s such a lift for your team when you kill off a five-on-three, not just a 25-second five-on-three, but a minute and a half.”
Columbus coach Jon Tortorella had the understatement of the year after the 3-2 loss. “We weren’t the team we need to be in the series.” The Jackets have played eight games in 13 days, including the five-overtime affair on Tuesday.
The Lightning played a much more disciplined game in game three
The team stuck with the plan and executed that plan to perfection in suffocating the Blue Jackets offense.
Every line contributed in some way. There was no sitting back and waiting for Kucherov or Point, or Palat to get the big goal or make a play to get the Lightning back in it.
Pat Maroon made a huge pay in the first period clearing a Blue Jacket player in front of Joonas Korpisalo. It cost Maroon some time in the penalty box but sent a message early on that this game was going to be a bit different from the first two.
Jon Cooper said after the game, “We were responsible, and that’s a big part. You can always possess it, but if you’re reckless with it, it can turn into problems. And we were not tonight. We were pretty responsible with the puck. I’m not saying we were perfect. We gave up a couple of odd-man rushes, but for the most part, we had good mojo going on the bench, every line was getting involved.”
Victor Hedman and Braydon Point added the other Lightning goals.
The Lightning has scored seven goals in three games but could have had a few more.
Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo has been outstanding as has the Jackets duo of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski on defense.
The Jackets have put 159 shots on Korpisalo in three games. The Jackets defense has blocked 107 shots through three games. That is a ton of potential scoring chances.
The Lightning are getting pucks to the net and creating scoring chances. The key is to capitalize on those second and third chances.
This is the Lightning way. The recipe for success. If the Lightning play like this the rest of the series, they will give themselves a good chance to raise the Stanley Cup in October.