By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that tied the National Hockey League’s single-season wins record with 62 victories this season, will exit the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with zero wins to their name, as they have been eliminated courtesy of a sweep by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It really wasn’t close, either.
The Blue Jackets kicked this series off with a three-goal comeback in Game 1, and straight-up dummied the Bolts in Games 2 and 3, with eight goals scored compared to just two from the Lightning. Those in denial when it came to the Lightning’s first-round troubles certainly realized this team was indeed sinking (and sinking fast) once they kicked off what felt like a must-win Game 3 with a grand total of three shots in the first period.
Tuesday night wasn’t much better for the Lightning.
Alexander Texier got the Jackets on the board just 2:26 into the first period, and Pierre-Luc Dubois extended the Columbus lead to 2-0 just 1:22 after that, putting Tampa Bay in a two-goal hole less than four minutes into the first period.
The Lightning brought themselves within one by the end of the first period, though, and even matched Seth Jones’ goal with strikes from Cedric Paquette and Brayden Point, leaving these teams at an even 3-3 through 40 minutes of play.
But back to the power play in the third period, the Blue Jackets once again made the Lightning pay, as Oliver Bjorkstrand put the Blue Jackets ahead, and they simply never looked back, with a trio of empty-net goals to make it a 7-3 final.
Where this ranks in terms of biggest upsets in sports history is completely up to you, but I’m not sure anything out there compares to this. This was a record-setting Tampa team that began and ended their postseason run with zero wins.
When we talk about all time great pro teams that came up short, it’s typically that they came with at least some sort of victory — be it a win in the opening round or forcing a deep series — to their name. But the Lightning didn’t even come through with that. Literally. They didn’t win a single game against what was the East’s ‘worst’ playoff team in terms of points.
This series loss makes the Lightning the first Presidents’ Trophy-winning team to get swept in the first round.
Tampa’s elimination means that the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs will take on the Blue Jackets in round two.