The experts in the hockey world are probably not very surprised the Blue Jackets/Tampa Bay series stands at 3-games-to-none right now...but they're stunned that it's the Blue Jackets on the verge of a sweep. The Lightning, after a historic regular season that saw them tie the NHL record with 62 wins and saw them beat the Jackets three times by a combined score of 17-3, are on the brink of elimination following a stirring 3-1 Blue Jackets win Sunday night in Nationwide Arena.
Sergei Bobrovsky continues to rewrite the narrative about his effectiveness in the playoffs. The Jackets goalie was outstanding, making 30 saves, 16 of them in the 3rd period. He has now stopped 69 of the last 71 Lightning shots he has faced. Matt Duchene's second period goal gave the Jackets the lead. It was his second goal in as many games. Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored in the second period, on a power play. The Jackets have power play goals in each game of the series. Cam Atkinson iced the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute. The Jackets depth of firepower has been on display in this series. Their 12 goals have been scored by 10 different players. Bjorkstrand became the 10th last night. Only Duchene and Atkinson have scored more than once.
There's still work to be done, of course, but the Jackets are in the best of positions to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history. They have pushed the Lightning to the brink of elimination. The CBJ become just the second team ever to take a 3-0 series lead against a Presidents' Trophy winning team in the opening round of the playoff. The other team was the 2012 LA Kings, who took a 3-0 lead on Vancouver before winning the series in five games. LA went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Again---still a long way to go, but perhaps we're in for a very special spring/summer in Columbus.
Below are some highlights and post-game interviews. The Jackets will try to close the series out Tuesday night.