Whether you want to call it the greatest upset of all time or the greatest collapse of all time, it doesn't matter because the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in four games.
Tampa Bay captured the Presidents' Trophy after finishing with a 62-16-4 record during the regular season, while Nikita Kucherov scored the most points since the salary cap was instituted, but its profound success didn't translate against a red-hot Columbus squad.
And what a season it was. They built an 8-0 advantage in shots on goal as it took the Jets nearly 11 minutes to test Binnington, who came up with a couple of saves on a Winnipeg power play to keep the game scoreless.
Kucherov established himself as the Hart Trophy favourite after notching 41 goals and a league-best 128 points but was a net-negative for the Lightning, showing none of the superb vision and playmaking ability that captivated the NHL this year.
"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. That is a lot of money and security designated for role players.
After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jackets struck 1:44 into the second when Duchene was in the right place to score off a rebound. However, I've said it before and I'll say it again, outside of the first period in game one, the Blue Jackets have arguably been the better team for the other 8 periods in this series. Strengths of ours that were keys to us winning in the regular season, we didn't get it done in this series. "The job's not done".More news: Sophie Turner Opens Up About Battling Depression While Filming ‘Game of Thrones’
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Because the puck keeps going in, the Islanders' season will keep going on.
Tampa dropped a tight opener 4-3 after Columbus clawed their way back from being down 3-0. The Blue Jackets' final three goals came late in the period after the Lightning had pulled goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for an extra skater. "It sucks", Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said.
"If we had the answers, we would have found a way to win a game".
Rookie Alexandre Texier, who was brought over after his season ended in the Finnish league, scored his first NHL goal and later added one of the empty-netters. He ranks first among all Syracuse defensemen for goals, assists and points.
"It's one of the best I've ever played with", said Stamkos, an 11-year veteran, when asked to evaluate his team in January.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper took some solace in his team finally showing signs of getting its swagger back. "I think this is a really good foundation, (and) you can do some really insane things if you stay together as a unit". The Blue Jackets exposed the Lightning, and now Tampa Bay has the summer to reorient. Toward the end of the opening period, for the first time since their 3-0 lead early in Game 1, the Lightning had something positive happen to them. "A very structured team over there, played to their systems, didn't waver and outplayed us for four games". "We're going to need him, because there's going to be another push in Game 4".
The game had been over for no more than 15 minutes, and the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room was full of players with bruised feelings, unfulfilled expectations and heads hung in despair.