Blue Jackets, Islanders complete Stanley Cup sweeps

2019 Lightning overtake 2012 Canucks for the worst playoff result for a Presidents' Trophy winner

2019 Lightning overtake 2012 Canucks for the worst playoff result for a Presidents' Trophy winner

The fate of the Tampa Bay Lightning proves that there is a curse that follows teams with historic regular season performances.

After squandering a three-goal lead in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Blue Jackets, the 2018-19 Presidents' Trophy winners were outscored 8-2 by Columbus in the next two games.

The Lightning led the National Hockey League with 62 wins and recorded 128 points, matching the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most victories in a single season.

And what a season it was.

The Penguins don't have a win, Crosby doesn't have a point and if Pittsburgh can't find a way to solve New York's byzantine defensive structure and red-hot goaltender Robin Lehner (7:30 p.m. ATT), a team that entered the playoffs in search of a third Stanley Cup in four years will head into an offseason of soul searching.

One team not short on ties to the Blueshirts are of course the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have a boatload of former Rangers on their rosters. The small silver lining is that the Lightning should come away from this series, and this season, knowing who their indispensable players are and who is dispensable.

"Oh, I don't know". Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was magnificent in the third period as Tampa mounted a futile comback. In the first round, they drew the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that had never won a playoff series.

"It's a great feeling to finally get one", Blue Jackets defenceman David Savard said. "The job's not done".

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Bobrovsky carried the day again for the Blue Jackets, finishing with 30 saves.

Bobrovsky struggled in the first period of the series but bounced back in a major way to help his team pull off the major upset.

Columbus' Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, and Artemi Panarin, Texier and Matt Duchene added empty-net goals in the final two minutes. Tampa Bay was without its two best players, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, for Game 3 and Hedman is already ruled out for Game 4. Instead, they were sent home after four games. "We're excited about the opportunity we've given ourselves but we know it's going to be the hardest game of the series". The Lightning salary cap situation is distressing, and it is a reminder of the perils of a win-now-and-worry-later strategy. Kyle Connor had a pair of goals for Winnipeg in the victory, with Kevin Hayes, Patrik Laine, Brandon Tanev, and Dustin Byfuglien also finding the back of the net.

A dozen different players scored for Columbus in the series. "You earned it. Good luck the rest of the way", the Tweet said. "It's amusing: We're expected to go far this year, and we go nowhere. I think this is a really good foundation, (and) you can do some really insane things if you stay together as a unit". The amount of squandered money in Tampa Bay's books is concerning. The Lightning were swept by Columbus in stunning fashion.

"We wanted to play a certain way", Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.

Kucherov (first in total power-play points), Stamkos (second) and Point (seventh) were the catalysts for the Lightning's league-best power play during the regular season, but they lacked the cohesion that made them a nightmare for opposing coaches to game plan against.

Kucherov was suspended for Game 3 of the series for an illegal check in Game 2.

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