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Lightning falls to Blue Jackets

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop glances skyward after the Blue Jackets’ Jack Skille puts the puck past him early in the third period for a 3-0 Columbus lead. Says Lightning coach Jon Cooper of his team’s game overall, “Just one of those nights.”
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop glances skyward after the Blue Jackets’ Jack Skille puts the puck past him early in the third period for a 3-0 Columbus lead. Says Lightning coach Jon Cooper of his team’s game overall, “Just one of those nights.”
Published Dec. 7, 2014

TAMPA — Shortly after a Lightning power play fell flat in the third period Saturday, Blue Jackets wing Jack Skille jumped out of the penalty box and into a two-on-one.

Skille's shot bounced in off the stick of the Lightning's Nikita Kucherov, who slammed his blade into the boards in frustration.

It was that kind of night for Tampa Bay, which lost 3-1 in front of a subdued crowd of 17,647 at Amalie Arena. The Eastern Conference-leading Lightning (18-7-3) snapped its overall five-game home winning streak against a Columbus team (9-15-2) that entered in last place but now has won three straight and moved out of the basement.

"Just because a team is behind you in the standings does not make them not a quality opponent," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I never believe in that. That's ludicrous to me.

"These are all National Hockey League players. All these teams are good. You think you are just going to walk in and say, 'We are in first place, so we are going to win this game,' there is no way. And I don't think we did that. I thought we played well, we played hard, we just couldn't put the puck in the net. They got a couple of breaks and a couple of goals.

"You have to go out and play the game, and they just beat us (Saturday).''

Cooper said the Lightning's effort was there, and so were scoring chances; Tampa Bay outshot the Blue Jackets 34-20. But Tampa Bay's execution was off. Even goalie Ben Bishop, who has been stellar all season, gave up three goals on 20 shots. The first deflected off defenseman Radko Gudas. The second somehow squeezed through his 6-foot-7 frame.

"It's been a while since we've had bad bounces go against us," Bishop said. "Any time you get two (goals) off your own guys, usually it's not a good night."

Meanwhile, Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky — who made 52 saves in a shootout win Thursday — racked up 33 to give Columbus its first win at Tampa Bay since Jan. 2, 2004.

"If I had a fault in our game, we didn't have enough passion at the net, and maybe that cost us," Cooper said. "You can get in the mid 30s in shots all you want. If you're not going to be in front for a lot of them, it makes it harder."

It was a stark contrast from the teams' last meeting, Nov. 7 in Columbus, when the Lightning overwhelmed the Blue Jackets with its speed to score four first-period goals in a 7-4 win. But Bobrovsky was hurt then, along with a few other Blue Jackets. The Lightning hurt itself in this one.

"We gave up a three-on-one, a two-on-one and a breakaway," Cooper said. "I don't know if I can add that up that we've done (that) in the last five games combined. That was a bit alarming."

The Lightning also had a potential second-period power play negated when Bishop played the puck as he went to the bench on a delayed penalty call. Tampa Bay outshot Columbus 12-4 in the second, disappointed to come up empty-handed.

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Wing Ryan Callahan said the Lightning wasn't desperate enough in the third, getting just eight shots and a too-little, too-late Ondrej Palat goal.

"We definitely didn't earn our breaks," captain Steven Stamkos said, "And didn't deserve the points."

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First Period1, Columbus, Jenner 4 (Calvert), 2:37. 2, Columbus, Savard 5 (J.Johnson, Atkinson), 12:48 (pp). PenaltiesAtkinson, Clm (holding), 4:52; Stralman, TB (interference), 12:25; Drouin, TB (tripping), 18:01.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesPalat, TB (interference), 13:30; Prout, Clm (interference), 16:26; Tampa Bay bench, served by Callahan (too many men), 16:26; Prout, Clm (cross-checking), 18:50; Callahan, TB (cross-checking), 18:50.

Third Period3, Columbus, Skille 4 (Chaput, Hartnell), 4:51. 4, Tampa Bay, Palat 8 (Kucherov, Drouin), 18:47. PenaltiesSkille, Clm (tripping), 2:42; Carle, TB (interference), 8:24; Calvert, Clm (roughing), 17:36; Killorn, TB (roughing), 17:36. Shots on GoalColumbus 9-4-7—20. Tampa Bay 14-12-8—34. Power-play opportunitiesColumbus 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. GoaliesColumbus, Bobrovsky 8-8-1 (34 shots-33 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 16-4-2 (20-17). A17,467 (19,204). T2:23. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Dan O'Rourke. LinesmenJay Sharrers, Mark Shewchyk.