Jackets vs Lightning: The Tampa Bay Lightning won’t have leading scorer Nikita Kucherov and may not have defenseman Victor Hedman when they try to avoid going down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.
Event: NHL Playoffs 2019
Team: Jackets vs Lightning
Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
The 2018-19 season belonged to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and so should the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. After clinching the Presidents’ Trophy in early March, the Lightning finished the season with 62 wins and tied the 1996 Detroit Red Wings for the NHL record. Now all they have to do is win the Cup – which the Red Wings did not accomplish.
They’ll face the Columbus Blue Jackets, who didn’t clinch a playoff spot until Friday night in a dramatic game against the New York Rangers, in the first round. Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning is only a few hours away. We’ve talked about the forwards and the defensemen, so now it’s time to discuss the goalies.
The Lightning boasts the NHL’s wins leader and 2019 Vezina Trophy frontrunner in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Big Cat won 39 games and ranks in the top 10 in wins, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts. Backup Louis Domingue enters the playoffs with an eye-popping 21-5-0 record but pedestrian numbers elsewhere, just hovering over the .900 save percentage mark. It helps to play behind one of the league’s deepest defenses.
In three games against Blue Jackets this season, Vasilevskiy went 3-0-0, stopping 100 of 103 shots for a ridiculous .971 save percentage. That last game took place on February 18 though, a week before the trade deadline and the addition of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.
Hedman, who won the Norris Trophy last season, is a game-time decision because of an injury that might be related to the upper-body injury that caused him to miss the last four games of the regular season.
“He’s been banged up for the last bit,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s just if he’s not 100 percent confident in his ability to be physical. Hopefully we’ll find that out tonight.”
The Blue Jackets have outscored the Lightning 9-1, including 4-0 on special teams, in the past five periods. They also swept Games 1 and 2 at the Washington Capitals last season but lost the next four games.