Do or die time for Lightning in Game 4 against Blue Jackets

After winning the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team in the regular season the Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of being swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Ever since the Blue Jackets assembled a four-goal comeback in the third period of Game 1, Tampa Bay unraveled and was on the losing end of a first-round sweep at the hands of a franchise that has never seen the second round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay became the first team in the expansion era, which began in 1967-68, to go winless in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been poor for the Lightning while Sergei Bobrovsky has been quite the opposite for Columbus.

The Jackets will now have to wait until the conclusion of the Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple leafs victor.

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"What an experience in that series, " said center Matt Duchene, who was acquired at the trade deadline along with winger Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa for the playoff push. This isn't the ending we imagined, and certainly not the one we wanted. The Blue Jackets barely snuck into the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, finishing just two points clear of the Montreal Canadiens.

With Columbus clinging to a 4-3 lead in the third period, Tampa Bay had wrested the momentum from the Blue Jackets but still couldn't solve Bobrovsky.

Ondrej Palat cut the deficit in half less than five minutes into the final frame and would come close down the stretch, firing 17 shots on goal in the 3rd period, but Cam Atkinson would bury an empty-netter with a minute to go to seal the deal and secure the victory for the Blue Jackets.

But now regular-season records don't mean anything, and everything seems to be falling in Columbus' favor. Artemi Panarin has recorded four goals and 10 assists over the last 10 games for Columbus.

It all came so easily for Tampa Bay - until it didn't. The Lightning tied it at 3 on Point's goal late in the second period, but Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 54 seconds later.

Columbus had two goals on the board within the first four minutes on Tuesday, thanks to Alexandre Texier and Pierre-Luc Dubois, and it looked like it was going to dominate its way through Game 4 like it did the previous two. Bailey's shot found its target, and the Islanders finished off the three-time champion Penguins in a sweep.

For the second straight year the New York Rangers failed to reach the postseason, but there are still plenty of playoff connections to keep a keen eye on. Pittsburgh managed just six goals in the series, including Jake Guentzel's first of the post-season 35 seconds into the game.

It wasn't almost enough to stop the Islanders.

Columbus leads the series, 3-0, as the Lightning are in danger of becoming the first President's Trophy winners to get swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It worked. The Blue Jackets have won their very first playoff series in franchise history. "We're going to need him, because there's going to be another push in Game 4".

Vladimir Tarasenko scored and Jordan Binnington made 37 saves for the Blues. Their goal differential was in the triple digits: +103.

Aside from some concerns about their underlying analytics - they were 9th in corsi, 8th in expected goals, and 11th in scoring chances - the Lightning were overwhelming favourites to win the Stanley Cup.

Scheifele tied it at the 7:33 mark, tipping in a feed from Connor. Connor had the set up on Scheifele's tying goal and also crashed the net to pick up the OT victor that has the Jets heading home with some momentum. Aaron Dell started in net for the second period, but Vegas didn't let up and Pacioretty scored his second of the game on the power play.

Particularly McDonagh, Callahan and Girardi who were all such loyal servants for the Rangers, with the trio racking up 1,754 games between them in NY.



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