Weary Lightning, Blue Jackets rush to recover for Game 2
After battling over 150 minutes of action in Game 1, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning now have to quickly regroup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round series on Thursday in Toronto.
Brayden Point's goal in quintuple overtime sealed a 3-2 win for the Lightning in the fourth-longest game in NHL history. The two clubs combined for a league-record 151 shots (88 by Tampa Bay, 63 by Columbus), and 23 skaters had more than 40 minutes of ice time.
"I don't think anybody can understand how hard it is on a player to go through that ... to be in eight periods of hockey and still be able to make the plays they were making, it was remarkable," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Obviously I'm glad that we came out on top, but (that was) a pretty gutty effort by both teams."
While Game 1 felt like a series unto itself, the Blue Jackets are viewing the result as only one game and one setback.
"It's playoff hockey, you're going to lose games," Columbus forward Oliver Bjorkstrand said. "This was just a long OT game we lost, so it's no different. We've just got to bounce back and be ready for the next game, and we will."
The Jackets' qualifying round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs has already shown how Columbus can move on from a tough loss. After surrendering a 3-0 lead in the final four minutes and suffering a 4-3 overtime defeat in Game 4 against the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets responded with a 3-0 shutout in the deciding Game 5.
The grind of that earlier series -- which included two overtime games -- plus the length of Game 1 against Tampa Bay could take a toll on Columbus heading into Game 2, however. Over a six-day span, the Jackets effectively played more than six games -- four regulation games and 122:01 of overtime against the Leafs and Lightning.
Coming off a playoff record 85-save performance in Game 1, Joonas Korpisalo will almost certainly be the Jackets' choice in net on Thursday. Elvis Merzlikins wasn't available for the last two games with an undisclosed injury, making him questionable for Game 2 and putting another rookie, Matiss Kivlenieks, again in line to be Korpisalo's backup.
While the Lightning have a more experienced backup goaltender in Curtis McElhinney, it seems likely that Tampa Bay will again deploy Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. Vasilevskiy set a new Lightning team record with 61 saves in Game 1.
Since the two clubs will probably want as much time as possible to evaluate their players' status in the wake of Tuesday's marathon, any Game 2 lineup changes might not be revealed until Thursday morning.
Point's overtime winner was one of two goals for the forward in Game 2. Dating back to 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Point has a five-game points streak (four goals, two assists) in the postseason.
Pierre-Luc Dubois leads all Blue Jackets skaters this postseason with six points (four goals, two assists).
The Lightning are the designated home team for Game 2, giving them the final line change. The Blue Jackets will "host" Games 3 and 4 on the neutral-ice environment in Toronto.
--Field Level Media
Updated August 13, 2020