Lightning-Blue Jackets: How to go from first to last on special teams in a week’s time

The Lightning has yet to score on five power plays and, meanwhile, Columbus has converted on 4-of-8.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy, left, of Russia, gives up a goal as Columbus Blue Jackets' Pierre-Luc Dubois, center, and Josh Anderson watch the play during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Tampa Bay Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy, left, of Russia, gives up a goal as Columbus Blue Jackets' Pierre-Luc Dubois, center, and Josh Anderson watch the play during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Published April 16

COLUMBUS, Ohio — High on the list of head-scratching developments in this first round series is the performance of the special teams. Or in Tampa Bay’s case, the lack thereof.

Tampa Bay finished the regular season with both the No. 1 power play and the No. 1 penalty kill in the NHL. Three games into the postseason, the Lightning was last in both categories.

[ UP NEXT: vs. Blue Jackets, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/RADIO: Fox Sports Sun/AM-970 ]

It raised a few eyebrows in Game 3 when the Blue Jackets made it through the entire game without being assessed a penalty and Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested there were several calls that could have been made, but said it was not egregious.

Through those first three games, Columbus has had eight power plays and Tampa Bay has had five.

“I look at it through our glasses. So I say there were penalties that weren’t called, but I’m sure Columbus would say the same thing,’’ Cooper said. “It’s not like the power plays are 6-0. They’re not getting very many either. They’re getting more than us, but in the end it’s not tilting the scale.

“What’s tilting the scale is the limited ones they’re getting we’re not killing them off.’’

The Blue Jackets had one of the least effective power plays in the league during the regular season, finishing 28th at 15.4 percent. And yet they converted on four of their first eight chances against the Lightning.

“As we’ve … talked all year long on the struggles with our power play: sometimes you get some puck luck,’’ Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We haven’t changed our system, we haven’t changed our philosophy, we’ve gotten some shots on the net and we’re going to keep on doing that.’’

Contact John Romano at [email protected] Follow @romano_tbtimes

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