COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbus skated through two sluggish periods and needed a lift to overcome a one-goal deficit against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning provided some help. Rick Nash scored on the second of four consecutive Blue Jackets’ power plays in the first 12 minutes of the final period for the winner in a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
His 33rd goal of the season and second of the game came at the 7:37 mark.
“Penalties not only stop our momentum but it gives them momentum and obviously they took advantage of it,” Tampa Bay centre Vincent Lecavalier said.
Mike Lundin and Lecavalier gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead after two periods, but the often short-handed Lighting did not have a shot on goal until 4:35 remained in the game, while Columbus had 14 in the period to that point.
“The power play made a difference,” Blue Jackets left wing R.J. Umberger said. “We had to take advantage of that. It was good to see. If they’re undisciplined, you have to make them play.”
Columbus had only 10 shots through 40 minutes.
“We were pretty disappointed with our first two periods of play,” Columbus goalie Steve Mason said.
He was much happier seeing the action at the other end for much of the final period.
“I wasn’t getting rusty. I was just enjoying what the guys were doing,” Mason said. “We had the momentum for around 95 per cent of the third period.”
Columbus was the aggressor at the start of the third, and Fedor Tyutin made it 2-2 at the 6:21 mark from the high slot with a drive that hit underneath the crossbar before settling across the goal line.
“I liked the end result but the first two periods were a clinic in how not to play – for both teams,” Columbus interim head coach Claude Noel said.
Umberger set up the winner. He was checked to the ice left of the goal by Mattias Ohlund but still managed to backhand the puck while on his stomach to Nash in the low slot for a shot that trickled through traffic into the goal.
“It was a great play,” Nash said. “The way we set up the power play he’s taking all the bumps and the bruises and the hard hits. Me and (Kristian) Huselius kind of float around the outside and wait for the passes. He’s one of the best in the league at it.
“It was an amazing pass. I was yelling for it. I knew no one was around me. I was pretty surprised he got it to me.”
The Lightning finally got a power play with just under five minutes left and also pulled goalie Antero Niittymaki with 1:47 to go to test Mason, who made five of his 16 saves in the third.
“They had some quality chances but we made sure that we took care of them,” Mason said.
Niittymaki faced 15 shots in the third and 25 for the game.
“We didn’t give them much except the power plays,” Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. “It was kind of, I shouldn’t say, a boring game.”
Lecavalier put the Lightning ahead 2-1 at 8:06 of the second, scoring his 23rd goal only 19 seconds into a power play.
The teams exchanged goals in the first with Lundin scoring for Tampa Bay at 16:50 with a slap shot. Nash then was the recipient of Lundin’s turnover 74 seconds later deep in the Lightning end.
NOTES: Tampa Bay had been the only NHL team Nash had not scored a goal against. … Lightning C Zenon Konopka, the NHL leader in fights (29) and penalty minutes (243), was part of the Columbus organization from 2006-08 and played in nine games with the Blue Jackets. He fought Mike Blunden three minutes into the third period. … Columbus is 14-0-2 in its past 16 games against the Southeast Division. … Columbus C Tomas Kana made his NHL debut.