The Columbus Blue Jackets are one victory away from making franchise history.
In front of the third-largest hockey crowd in Nationwide Arena history, 19,224 raucous fans who spent most of the evening chanting their support, the Blue Jackets fought their way to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Columbus Sunday night.
With their third consecutive win over the Lightning, the NHL’s top regular-season team, the Blue Jackets took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Blue Jackets could advance beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time ever with a win in Game 4 in Columbus Tuesday night.
The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead over the Lightning when veteran center Matt Duchene tallied his second goal of the playoffs 1:44 into the second period.
Defenseman Seth Jones controlled the puck along the right point and swung it left to fellow defender Zach Werenski. The former Lake Erie Monsters standout blasted a shot from the blue line that was deflected in on net by right winger Cam Atkinson.
Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped the tip-in attempt from Atkinson, but the rebound bounced to the right of the net. Duchene controlled the deflection and wristed a backhanded shot into the back of the net.
Atkinson and Werenski picked up assists on Columbus’ first goal of the game.
The Blue Jackets doubled the advantage to 2-0 when right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand recorded a power play goal 8:25 into the second period.
After taking a pass from 19-year-old rookie center Alexandre Texier at the blue line, Jones sailed a tape-to-tape pass to Bjorkstrand, and from just inside the faceoff circle, he roofed a wrist shot high blocker side and into the net for his first tally of the playoffs.
Despite Tampa Bay cutting the deficit to one goal, 2-1, early in the third period, the Blue Jackets kept their composure and tallied an empty-net score to seal the victory.
Left winger Artemi Panarin controlled the puck along the near boards and sent a pass forward to Atkinson. With pressure being applied from a Tampa Bay defender, Atkinson wristed a shot from just outside the blue line into the empty net for his second tally of the series.