Korpisalo, Blue Jackets win 3-1, tie series with Lightning

John Tortorella, Head Coach - Columbus Blue Jackets. Winningest U.S.-born coach in NHL history signed through 2020-21. photo courtesy NHL.com

TORONTO — Two days after making an NHL-record 85 saves in a five-overtime loss, Joonas Korpisalo stopped 36 more shots to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 on Thursday to even the series at a game apiece.

Ryan Murray and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in the first period for Columbus, both goals set up by Pierre-Luc Dubois. Alexander Wennberg added another in the third.

“We’ve all seen him play this past season,” Dubois said about Korpisalo. “He’s an All-Star, then he gets injured and then he comes back. Another break (for the coronavirus), but we all know what he’s capable of. We all know in the dressing room that he’s one of the best goalies in the NHL, and he’s feeling really good right now.”

Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves. The Tampa Bay goalie had 61 stops Tuesday in a 4-3 victory in the fourth-longest game in league history.

Both teams looked sluggish at the start Thursday, especially Columbus, which took more than half the first period to get any offensive push going.

Kucherov grabbed a carom off the back boards and banked in a shot off Korpisalo’s back to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead 5:24 into the game. Columbus tied it when Dubois fed Murray with a perfect pass from behind the goal line with 7:08 left in the first.

The Blue Jackets took the lead on Bjorkstrand’s one-timer from the right circle on a late first-period power play. Columbus’ goals came on just six shots in the period.

“We lost our mojo a little bit when we gave up the lead,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Early in the third period, Columbus defenceman Seth Jones — who had 65:06 of ice time Tuesday, the most since the league started tracking ice time — chased down Barclay Goodrow on a breakaway and disrupted what would have been a doorstep shot.

Then, with 8:33 left in the game, Wennberg drove in hard from the right and beat Vasilevskiy. Korpisalo then withstood the last 3:41 of a Lightning 6-on-5 attack.

“I don’t think we’re frustrated at all,” Tampa Bay centre Anthony Cirelli said. “We’re getting pucks to the net. We’re getting good looks. We’ve got to bury our chances when we get them.”

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella downplayed the effort by his team to rebound on the heels of losing a heart-breaker in the Game 1 marathon.

“It’s what we do,” Tortorella said. “It’s what pros are supposed to do. I don’t think it’s anything special. I think it’s the proper way of going about your business. And we’ve had a lot of opportunities with the ups and downs, especially the past couple of weeks, to work at that.”

Tortorella pointed to the Columbus penalty kill that came after the Lightning had taken a 1-0 in the first period as a turning point.

NOTES: : Dubois has four goals and four assists in seven playoff games. … Brayden Point, with an assist on the Kucherov goal, became the fourth player in Lightning history to post a point in each of the first games in a post-season. … Blue Jackets G Elvis Merzlikins was still unavailable with an undisclosed injury. Matiss Kivlenieks backed up Korpisalo, and Veini Vehviläinen was brought in a third goalie.


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The Associated Press