Tampa, Fla. — The Columbus Blue Jackets rebounded from a dismal start to stun the team that had the NHL’s best regular-season record.
Seth Jones scored the go-ahead goal on the power play to cap Columbus’ three-goal third period, and the Blue Jackets rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in Game 1 of the teams’ first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Wednesday night.
“We can’t get comfortable,” Jones said. “Nothing is going to get easier. It’s only going to get harder.”
Jones made it 4-3 from the slot with 5:55 to play as the Blues Jackets erased a 3-0 deficit after the Lightning scored three times in the opening period.
With Columbus trailing 3-1 in the third, David Savard deked around Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and scored 7:56 into the period to make it a one-goal game. Josh Anderson picked up a short-handed goal that tied it at 3 at 11:54.
The Blue Jackets became the 27th NHL team to overcome at least a three-goal deficit to win a playoff game in regulation.
Nick Foligno had the other goal for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky ended up with 26 saves after struggling in the first period.
The Lightning, who matched the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in a regular season with 62, got first-period goals from Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots.
“Our mentality was, we wanted to outscore them tonight instead of build a lead and then shut then down,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Our mentality has to be when we get in these situations is shut teams down, not to add to the lead.”
Tampa Bay scored 325 goals in 2018-19, the most by any team in 23 years.
Hedman returned after missing the final four regular-season game with an upper-body injury. The Norris Trophy winner took a helmet to the face during a collision with Washington’s Carl Hagelin on March 30.
Killorn stole the puck from Jones at the blue line during a power play for Columbus and put a backhander past Bobrovsky to open the scoring 4:12 into the game. Tampa Bay was tied for third in short-handed goals during the regular season with 12.
After Cirelli had a rebound goal at 11:01, Gourde’s waist-high deflection of Mikhail Sergachev’s shot made it 3-0 with 2:10 left in the first.
“We’re just losing too many battles,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of his first-intermission message. “Just the grind of the game. We have to be able to grind with them.”
Foligno cut the deficit to 3-1 at 9:15 of the second on a breakaway goal after Tampa Bay’s Ryan McDonagh made an errant pass in the offensive zone.
Alexandre Texier, Columbus’ 19-year-old rookie who played in the Blue Jackets’ final two regular-season games, skated in alone on Vasilevskiy but missed the net on a shot with 4 minutes to go in the first.
Bobrovsky stopped four shots over the final 40 seconds of the second, including a nifty glove save on Steven Stamkos.
“We don’t have a chance if he doesn’t play the way he played through the second and the third,” Tortorella said of Bobrovsky.
Nikita Kucherov, who had an NHL-best 128 points in the regular season, was held without a point but had an in-close chance turned aside by Bobrovsky and hit the crossbar during the opening minute of the second during a power play.
“I don’t know if it’s a wake-up call, but we know it’s a tough league to win in and we want to be better when we’re up 3-0,” Hedman said.
More NHL playoffs
►(At) N.Y. Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 3, OT: Josh Bailey scored on a rebound at 4:39 of overtime, leading the New York Islanders past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist, and Brock Nelson and Nick Leddy also scored for New York, which was opening a postseason series at home for the first time in 31 years. Robin Lehner stopped 41 shots.
Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had a goal and an assist, and Justin Schultz also scored for the Penguins. Matt Murray finished with 29 saves.
On the winning goal, Mathew Barzal brought the puck into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 break, faked in front to draw Murray out and sent a backhand shot that bounced off the left post, but Bailey was there to knock it in.
Game 2 is Friday night back at the Nassau Coliseum.
►St. Louis 2, (at) Winnipeg 1: Tyler Bozak scored with 2:05 left in the third period to give the St. Louis Blues the victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference opening-round playoff series.
Pat Maroon sent a backhand pass from behind the net out to Bozak in the slot, and Bozak’s quick shot went by Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck for the go-ahead goal.
David Perron also scored for St. Louis early in the third, and Jordan Binnington made 24 saves.
Patrik Laine scored late in the first period and Hellebuyck stopped 24 shots for the Jets, who host Game 2 on Friday.
►Dallas 3, (at) Nashville 2: Rookie Miro Heiskanen scored two goals in his first postseason game, and the Dallas Stars beat the Predators in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference series.
Heiskanen became the eighth rookie teenage defenseman in NHL history to score a goal in their first career playoff game and the first since Adam Larsson with New Jersey on May 1, 2012, against Philadelphia, according to NHL Stats. He also became the third-youngest with a multi-goal game and the youngest in franchise history with a postseason goal at 19 years, 266 days.
Mats Zuccarello also scored, helping Dallas continue its success from the regular season in Nashville, where the Stars won twice.
Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each scored for Nashville.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night in Nashville.