Photo courtesy of: Tampa Bay Times
The Tampa Bay Lightning ended this season by winning another President’s Trophy. Not only that but they tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a single season with 62.
Coach Jon Cooper had one of the best rosters a team has seen in recent history and felt he had all of his troops ready. Stven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan, Victor Hedman, Tyler johnson, Ryan McDonagh, Brayden Point, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Yanni Gourde, JT Miller, Ondrej Palat. Those are all names of players on Tampa that were involved in this stud team.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had other plans for this team. Head coach John Tortorella found his team down 3-0 in the first game of the series. A spark was lit after facing that deficit and Columbus never looked back. In game one, the Lightning scored 3 goals in the first period. Columbus came out in the second period and got a goal midway through the period from Nick Foligno. Still facing the deficit, David Savard, Josh Anderson and Seth Jones all found the back of the net with the eventual game from Jones with just under 6 minutes to go.
Onto game 2, the Blue Jackets were not playing around. After a huge 5-1 win on Tampa’s home ice, they now got to go home with a 2-0 series lead that no one would have predicted. Five different Blue Jackets scored in this game and Matt Duchene had 1 goal and 3 assists. Game 3 was scoreless after the first period, Duchene put them on the board in the 2nd period followed by an Oliver Bjorkstrand goal 7 minutes later. The Lightning showed some life when Palat found the back of the net 4:40 into the final period. But Columbus shot off the come back when Cam Atkinson scored his 2nd goal of the series with 1 minute to play.
The Blue Jackets needed one more win in a matter of 4 chances to seal the deal and they did not mess around. Game 4 was a 7-3 victory and what better way to do it then in front of your home crowd.
Columbus who finished the season 47-31-4, with 98 points. But now they have just taken down the number one team in the league with ease. They now await the winner of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs series which starts game 4 tonight. Toronto leads that series 2-1.
As for the Lightning, Dan Girardi, Brayden Coburn and Anton Stralman as unrestricted free agents and Slater Koekkoek, Brayden Point, Cedric Paquette, and Adam Erne are restricted free agents for the next year. With a big core still intact (Stamkos, Callahan, Johnson, Kucherov and more), the Lightning look to pull a complete turn around and come back stronger next season.