Columbus completes its bolt from the Blue, sweeps Lightning

Aubrey Yates
April 17, 2019

NY allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season, and then backed it up with 12-plus periods of sound hockey that's quickly become their calling card under Barry Trotz, who led the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season and now potentially awaits a rematch against his former team in the second round.

After tying an National Hockey League record with 62 wins in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept out of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night in shocking fashion. No President's Trophy-winning team had ever gotten swept in the first round of the playoff, well, until now.

"You have a historic regular season doing what we did and have basically a historic playoff in defeat", Cooper said.

"You don't get to this time of year without a really good goalie to get in, and you don't win playoff games without your goalie, so I thought he stood really big in those 10, 12 minutes there where they turned it up", Columbus coach John Tortorella said. It's not an excuse.

After game four, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper spoke about his team's failure.

The reigning Norris Trophy victor notched 54 points in 70 regular-season games during 2018-19.

You could place the blame in a number of areas but the reality is Tampa Bay became the fifth team in NHL history to finish with the league's best regular season record and get swept in their opening round playoff series, joining the 1920-21 Toronto St. Patricks, 1923-24 Ottawa Senators, 1928-29 Montreal Canadiens and 1937-38 Boston Bruins in this infamous group. Columbus has converted on 15.4 percent of power-play opportunities, scoring 34 power-play goals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were the Stanley Cup favorites when the postseason got underway.

Still, Lehner blanches at the idea that the Islanders - who have just one postseason series win since 1993 - are close to pulling off some kind of upset.

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It all came so easily for Tampa Bay - until it didn't. "We're getting close to our game and it's pretty risky". The play resulted in a one-game suspension in Game 3 for Kucherov. Beyond their top scorers, they had fantastic depth, with players throughout their lineup that could score, including 11 players in double digits in goals and a dozen with 30+ points.

Through three games, Kucherov and Hedman, plus 40-goal scorers Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, are among the Lightning players yet to register a point in the series.

The 2006-07 Warriors weren't the first No. 8 seed to win a first-round National Basketball Association playoff series. Gaunce has also notched five power-play goals. "I have no concerns about us taking our foot off the gas". In fact, their 3-1 triumph in Game 3 marked the first time they've won as many as three games in a playoff series.

Particularly McDonagh, Callahan and Girardi who were all such loyal servants for the Rangers, with the trio racking up 1,754 games between them in NY. "We just didn't have an answer".

This isn't the ending we imagined, and certainly not the one we wanted. "It's amusing: We're expected to go far this year, and we go nowhere".

COLUMBUS, OH %26#8211; APRIL 14: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 14, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It's tough not to be holding up the Stanley Cup at the end, but how many teams have gone through this?

Maybe, but for both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the hard work is just beginning if they want to pull off the improbable.

"That's something we've all been searching for, trying to find our very best game", he said. "It's unfortunate because it puts a blemish on what was one helluva regular season".

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