April 23, 2019

Hedman ruled out for Game 4 as Lightning look to avoid sweep

17 April 2019, 05:21 | Henrietta Morgan

Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated from Stanley Cup playoffs

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

Tampa Bay Lightning fans who think they've just witnessed the biggest choke-job in National Hockey League history can take solace in the fact that in 1982, the Edmonton Oilers finished 48 points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and blew a 5-0 lead in Game 3 en route to losing the first-round series.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finds themselves in a rather unexpected position as they prepare for tonight's Game 4 action against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning pulled their goalie late, and the Blue Jackets opened the scoring spigot on the way to a 7-3 win and shocking four-game sweep of the NHL's best team.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins face a similarly bleak outlook.

The Lightning might have had Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, but that didn't stop the Blue Jackets from playing their game. The last time was in 2014, when the Los Angeles Kings dug out of the hole in the opening series against San Jose and eventually won the Stanley Cup.

The Lightning have been outscored 12-2 since taking an early 3-0 advantage in Game 1 and Pittsburgh has led for all of 3:17 through nine-plus periods against the Islanders. I was kind of in the same boat as everyone else here where we were a little tight and overthinking and not just letting the game flow.

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Because the puck keeps going in, the Islanders' season will keep going on.

"To get to go out there and start the game with them is pretty special and hopefully do some good things", the 21-year-old native of Woodbridge, Ont., told reporters. Yet they have been unable to generate any sustained pressure against Lehner, a journeyman who is flourishing at the back end of coach Barry Trotz's defense-first system. Everyone looks and compares players and all that stuff. "I have never played in front of a crowd like that. It shouldn't be a surprise".

The New York Rangers will be hoping that's not the case. Or any for that matter.

The Blue Jackets suffocated the Lighting 5-1 and then 3-1, offering few power-play opportunities to the league's best power-play team. It worked. The Blue Jackets have won their very first playoff series in franchise history.

They're well aware getting the fourth will be the hardest one of all.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning were the Stanley Cup favorites when the postseason got underway.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan gave his team Monday off in attempt to give his players a chance to give their legs a rest. Here's hoping the Lightning used the time they have wisely and have devised a plan to get back into the series. The OVER has paid out on the totals in each of the first three games of this series.

"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.

"We couldn't find our game".

St. Louis star Vladimir Tarasenko shrugged off the loss. Tampa's Art Ross victor Nikita Kucherov missed Game Three after boarding Markus Nutivaara. But the Lightning still lost 7-3 and were the inferior team, even last night when they finally began to muster offense.

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"We're a confident group, and we have good players, good goalies and we're just going to have fun", he said. They'll now be made with the backdrop of this massive collapse and you'd have to think it will be a factor, but the Lightning know they have a strong team and a solid organization, led by owner Jeff Vinik, and won't succumb to the temptation to make change simply for the sake of change.

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