By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Tampa Bay Lightning tied an NHL record with 62 wins this season. They will look to continue their dominance on Wednesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of their playoff series.
The Lightning are a perfect 6-0 against the Blue Jackets over the last two seasons. Tampa Bay outscored Columbus 17-3 this season.
The teams haven’t competed against each other in since Feb. 18. Tampa Bay won the game 5-1.
“We haven’t played them in quite some time, and they’ve got so many more players now,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “Are they a more talented group? There’s no question. They’ve added some really good players. … The one thing I do know is they’re playing probably their best hockey of the year in this latter part of the season.”
The series will go every other day. Besides Wednesday, the two teams will play on Friday at 7 pm in Tampa.
The teams will switch to Columbus on Sunday, as the teams will play at 7 pm. They will also play on Tuesday in Game 4.
If necessary, Game 5 will be on Thursday in Tampa, Florida. Game 6 will be in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, before returning to Tampa, Florida for Game 7 on Tuesday if needed.
With twelve more wins than the second best team, the Lightning are entering to the playoffs as the heavy favorites with odds at +225.
The Lightning has a 73-60 playoff record. They lost in the Conference Finals in the 2017-18 season.
The Blue Jackets have never won a playoff series in team history. Their head coach John Tortorella guided the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004.
Columbus has a 5-16 playoff record. They are 0-4 in playoff series.
“We are a team that feels really confident now that we’ve gotten in, with everything we’ve faced and gone through,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno told reporters. “We’ve grown as a team together. I think you’re just seeing this become more of a team. We’re excited about putting that to use in the playoffs.”
Tampa Bay has three 40-goal scorers. Nikita Kucherov had 41 goals. He also led the team with 128 points.
Steven Stamkos had 45 goals and Brayden Point had 41 goals.
Columbus had one 40-goal scorer. Cam Atkinson had 41 goals.
Blue Jackets probable goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has gone 37-24–1-1 on the season. It is his third straight season with 37 wins.
Lightning probable goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy led the league with 39 wins, as he went 39-10-3-1. The 24-year-old also missed a month of the season due to an injury.