From the last team to qualify for the postseason to the first one moving on.
That is the story of the 2018-2019 Columbus Blue Jackets, as for the first time in franchise history, they advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs courtesy of a 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Tuesday night.
The Blue Jackets’ 7-3 victory closed out a four-game sweep of the Lightning, the NHL’s best regular-season team.
The Blue Jackets will play either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Currently, the Maple Leafs have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 set for the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto Wednesday night.
Despite having a three-game lead in the series, the Blue Jackets were the aggressors early in Game 4, and it led to a pair of goals within 82 seconds of each other.
Ahead of the first tally, defenseman Seth Jones controlled the puck at the blue line and left a drop pass for 19-year old rookie center Alexandre Texier just outside the left faceoff circle. Although a Tampa Bay player tried to block the shot, Texier wristed the puck past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the upper right corner of the net for his first goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Texier became the youngest player in Blue Jackets history to score a goal in the postseason.
And the Blue Jackets were not done scoring in the first period.
Center Pierre-Luc Dubois took possession of the puck on a rebound off the boards on a missed shot from right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and banked it off the back of Vasilevskiy’s leg and into the net to give the Blue Jackets a 2-0- lead less than four minutes into the game.
Although the Lightning cut the deficit in half when captain Steven Stamkos fired a shot into the net behind Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and won a coach’s challenge to take a tally off the scoreboard, Columbus kept up the pressure at the start of the second period.
Center Matt Duchene kept the puck in the net by winning a battle along the boards and got it to right winger Cam Atkinson at the left point. Atkinson did not take long to reverse the puck and send it over to Jones on the right point, and after teeing up his opportunity, the veteran blue-liner buried a slapshot into the net.
After two straight goals from the Lightning, including a deflected shot that ricocheted in off the crossbar, the Blue Jackets responded late in the second period.
With an extra attacker on the ice because of a delayed penalty, the Blue Jackets maintained possession of the puck for an extended period of time despite heavy traffic in the slot and Dubois put on a shot on net that Vasilevskiy turned away.
However, Vasilevskiy could not control the rebound and Bjorkstrand backhanded the puck into the net for the go-ahead goal.
Blue Jackets left winger Artemi Panarin and Texier iced the series-clinching victory with empty-net goals 19 seconds apart late in the third period. For good measure, Duchene tried to clear the puck from beyond the red line and sailed it nearly 200 feet into the empty net for the goal.