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Lightning finally break through on road trip, top Blue Jackets

Tampa Bay gets its first win since coming back from the All-Star break, with Andrei Vasilevskiy stopping 33 shots in Columbus.
 
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) blocks a shot by Blue Jackets right wing Justin Danforth (17) in the first period Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) blocks a shot by Blue Jackets right wing Justin Danforth (17) in the first period Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. [ SUE OGROCKI | AP ]
Published Feb. 11|Updated Feb. 11

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brandon Hagel had a goal and two assists, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 33 shots, and the Lightning beat the Blue Jackets 4-2 Saturday night to snap a two-game skid.

Nick Paul had a goal and an assist, and Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos also scored for Tampa Bay, now third in the Atlantic Division. Hagel’s three-point effort gives him 10 points in a six-game streak.

“It’s hard to win in this league and when you walk into an NHL building and come away with two points you take those and move on to the next game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You can pick apart any game you want but the bottom line is we needed these points, we got them and let’s move on.”

Boone Jenner scored twice in the third period to get Columbus within a goal, both with assists from Johnny Gaudreau. Elvis Merzlikins had 33 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have now lost two straight at home and three of their last four games, and sit last in the Metropolitan Division.

Despite an early barrage of shots from Columbus, Tampa Bay got on the board first when Paul scored his seventh power-play goal of the season with 4:20 remaining in the first during a double-minor, the result of Kent Johnson’s high-sticking penalty.

Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) shoots an open net goal past Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) in the third period.
Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) shoots an open net goal past Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) in the third period. [ SUE OGROCKI | AP ]

“Vasy made some big saves early,” Stamkos said. “Once we scored that goal, a great goal on the power play by Paulie, I think we got some life. We had a pretty good response after that.”

Cirelli’s breakaway 49 seconds into the second period made it 2-0 before Stamkos’ one-timer 23 seconds into the third period. Nikita Kucherov had an assist to extend his point streak to seven games.

Jenner made it 3-1 with 7:38 left in the third, shooting a laser from the right circle, for his first goal since Dec. 3 and 14th of the season. Jenner, who missed 15 games with a broken jaw, is coming off his first All-Star appearance.

“We had our legs going and created chances from that,” Jenner said. “(Vasilevskiy) made some great saves and some posts, but I liked the way we just stuck with it and we knew we’d get rewarded if we didn’t change anything.”

Jenner’s second score at 15:59 of the third pulled Columbus within a goal but it would get no closer.

“I just thought we were on our heels a little too much in the D-zone,” Stamkos said. “We need to be a little bit more aggressive, and just cut down their time in space. ... But the way things went in the first two games (back-to-back losses at the Rangers and Islanders), we’ll take the points.”

Hagel’s empty-netter came with 48 seconds left to seal the win.

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By NICOLE KRAFT, Associated Press