The Tampa Bay Lighting closed out 2017 with a clash against the Metropolitan Divison’s Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the third meeting between these two clubs this season, with the Lightning having won the first two. The Blue Jackets started off the game on a sour note, eager to lean their weight on a speedy Lightning team.
This tactic proved to be successful as they held the Lightning to just five shots in the first period. This was due to quick puck recovery and good usage of two power play opportunities granted by Tampa Bay’s mistakes. Columbus uncovered several scoring chances, but it was the first period heroics of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who kept the Blue Jackets off the scoreboard.
Columbus was relentless on their attack. They rushed the net, disrupted Vasilevskiy’s safety in the crease, and fired shots from every angle. However, the young Tampa Bay goaltender was up to the task and turned away all of the Blue Jackets’ twelve shots. If it wasn’t for that, surely the score would not have been 0-0 heading into the second period.
Johnny Five is Alive! Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson made his presence felt in the second period as he scored twice within five minutes to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead.
This sparked what would be an offensive explosion for Tampa Bay. They went on to pepper Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo with 19 shots, score four goals, and completely befuddle the Blue Jackets, who had this game well in hand at the end of the first. It all started with a Johnson snipe early in the second that drew first blood.
Within five minutes, Johnson dipped his pen in the scoring pool once again and, in a fantastic flourish, the Lightning found themselves with a two-goal lead.
It would not stop there. Inspired by his fellow triplet’s two tallies, Nikita Kucherov blistered a shot to make it three and Cory Conacher netted a fourth. In the blink of an eye, Tampa Bay found themselves with a 4-0 lead.
While most of Vasilevskiy’s hard work came in the first period, he stood tall to support an energized Lightning team.
The Russian netminder turned away all 21 of Columbus’s shots to lead the Lightning to a 5-0 shutout win. This was Vasilevskiy’s fifth shutout of the young 2017-18 NHL season. He faced a plethora of scoring chances early, but with the offensive explosion provided in the second, Vasilevskiy was able to smother the remaining nine shots he faced.
Captain Steven Stamkos added an additional tally in the third period to bring the game to it’s eventual final score. Watching the first period, one felt that darkness was looming due to the Lightning’s excess of penalties and lack of shots. This drastically changed over the final two periods and Tampa Bay rang in 2018 with a win.
Three Stars of the Game
- Tyler Johnson, Two goals
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, 21-save shutout
- Mikhail Sergachev, Two assists
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