Lightning journal: Big 3 finally shows up ... too late

Stamkos, Kucherov and Point have their moments as Tampa Bay bows out of the postseason.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his first-period goal after beating Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72), right, in Game 4 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday, April 16, 2019 in Columbus. (DIRK SHADD  |  Times)
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his first-period goal after beating Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72), right, in Game 4 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday, April 16, 2019 in Columbus. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published April 16
Updated April 16

They had been quiet for days. But in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Blue Jackets, the Lightning’s Big 3 finally broke its silence. But it was too little, too late. A 7-3 loss Tuesday night ended the Lightning’s season.

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point combined for five points in Game 4 after being pointless in the series to that point. Stamkos had a goal and an assist, Point had a goal, and Kucherov, the league’s scoring champion, had two assists.

It started with a goal from Stamkos about halfway into the opening period.

Anthony Cirelli battled for the puck along the boards before he broke it free and shuffled it out to Kucherov, who stood near the corner of the ice.

He redirected the puck out to the center of the ice, where it was intercepted by Stamkos. The star center made his way down the slot and between two Blue Jackets before he took a shot just outside the crease and pulled the Lightning within 2-1.

In the second period, Point notched Tampa Bay’s first power-play goal in the playoffs.

Kucherov carried the puck down the ice and past the blue line before he shuffled a pass to Stamkos along the boards. Point raced down center ice and stood at the top of the left faceoff circle just before Stamkos could find open space to pass the puck.

Point dribbled the puck to the right and left of his stick inside the circle and to the left of Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, who hugged the left side of the goal. The All-Star center brought the puck just inside the crease before he took a backhanded shot past Bobrovsky and tied the score at 3.

Before Tuesday, Tampa Bay was 32-1-2 when Point, Kucherov and Stamkos each logged at least one point in a game. It was 38-0-0 when Kucherov had a multipoint game.

“(The Blue Jackets) were the better team,” Stamkos said. “They had the game plan. I don’t know what to say. If we had the answers, we would have done it.”

You don’t say

Columbus’ four-game sweep, in four quotes:

“Forget about skills! Forget about X’s and O’s! It’s a (bleeping) mind-set of (bleeping) believing!”

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, during a speech before Columbus’ 4-3 Game 1 win in Tampa. By the time they trailed 3-0 after the first period, the Blue Jackets had been outscored by Tampa Bay 20-3 in 13 periods this season.

“This is a five-alarm fire.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper, after a 5-1 loss at home in Game 2

“I’d just like to think he has a little more respect, but it’s playoff hockey, too. I can’t expect it not to happen in a scrum. Next time I’ll just make sure to throw the first punch.”

Columbus captain Nick Foligno, on Steven Stamkos’ gloves-on punch late in Columbus’ 3-1 win in Game 3

“For six days in April, Columbus was the better team.”

Cooper after Game 4.

Sound off

The Lightning followed what was arguably the best regular season in NHL history, getting a record-tying 62 wins, with perhaps the most disappointing postseason in franchise history. Share your thoughts about what happened and what’s next. Email sports@tampabay.com. Include your first and last name and city of residence. We’ll print a selection of responses in upcoming editions and on tampabay.com.

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