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A tale of two cities: Front pages a day after Lightning are swept by Blue Jackets

Tampa Bay followed a historic regular season with a historic failure, becoming the NHL’s first Presidents’ Trophy winner ever swept in the first round. See how each team’s local paper covered the feat a day after.
A portion of the Columbus Dispatch's front cover a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.
A portion of the Columbus Dispatch's front cover a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.
Published Apr. 17, 2019
Updated Apr. 17, 2019

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

The Lightning were rolling. In their final regular-season game, they overcame a two-goal deficit against the Bruins to win 6-3 and tie the record for the most wins in a regular season. They entered the playoffs as the overwhelming favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

READ MORE: Lightning becomes the disappointment all others will be measured against

Then they became an entirely new team.

Calling it a collapse would be an understatement. Calling it an embarrassment is perhaps more fitting. Regardless of how you look at it, though, the Lightning — once discussed as potentially becoming one of the greatest NHL teams ever — is out of the playoffs after just four games.

READ MORE: Seven sad seasons: Most disappointing moments in Tampa Bay sports history

Here’s how the Tampa Bay Times and Columbus Dispatch covered the historic sweep a day later.

The Tampa Bay Times' front cover a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.


The front page of the Tampa Bay Times' sports page a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.


The Columbus Dispatch's front cover a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.


The front page of the Columbus Dispatch's sports section a day after the Lightning lost game four to the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3.


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  1. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) in the third period overtime of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3 in overtime. [DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP]
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) passes the puck past Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Lightning 7-3. [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
  3. San Jose Sharks right wing Barclay Goodrow (23) controls the puck ahead of New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. [MARY ALTAFFER  |  AP]
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik  [Times staff]
  5. The Lightning traded for Blake Coleman, right, eight days before the trade deadline. [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
  6. The Lightning signed defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose contract was terminated by Buffalo earlier this week. [MARK ZALESKI  |  AP]
  7. Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin poses with the puck commemorating his 700th career NHL goal that he scored against the New Jersey Devils in the third period at Prudential Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Newark, New Jersey. [PATRICK MCDERMOTT  |  AP]
  8. Carolina Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21) and center Martin Necas (88) speak to Hurricanes emergency goalie David Ayres as he takes the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) [FRANK GUNN  |  AP]
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) gives up a goal to Arizona Coyotes' Derek Stepan as Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) slides along the ice and Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (83) looks at the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
  10. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  11. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cedric Paquette shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury defends during the third period Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights won 5-3. [ISAAC BREKKEN  |  AP]
  12. Columbus left wing Artemi Panarin (9) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene (95) celebrate in front of the Lightning bench during the Blue Jackets' first-round victory over Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2019 NHL Playoffs. The four-game sweep was Columbus' payoff for a few deals at the trade deadline for players with expiring contracts. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
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