Blake Coleman scored twice, Ondrej Palat broke his 13-game goalless streak with the go-ahead tally and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Thursday night.
Coleman tied the game at 1 in the second period and added an empty-netter with 25 seconds left to secure the victory, but Palat’s marker put Tampa Bay up for good in the third period.
Without a goal since March 25 in Dallas, Palat broke a 1-1 tie with a top-shelf goal at 8:14 to bolster the third-place Lightning (31-14-2, 64 points) in the Central Division standings.
Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn earned assists, and backup goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 of 25 shots to move to 2-4-1 in his last seven starts.
Columbus (15-25-9, 39 points) got a power-play goal from Seth Jones, and Oliver Bjorkstrand and Patrik Laine provided helpers for the Blue Jackets, who lost their eighth straight game and are 2-13-2 in their last 17 contests.
On a tough stretch run to close out the season, goalie Elvis Merzlikins allowed two goals on 27 shots and fell to 1-9-0 in his last 10 outings, including a span of seven straight defeats.
Almost midway through the first period, Columbus finally recorded its first shot on the game’s initial power play and soon notched a goal for a 1-0 lead after Palat was sent off for cross-checking Mikko Lehtonen at 8:57.
With some good puck movement, Jones got the puck out high and fired a long point shot. The hard shot struck the stick of Killorn and fluttered past McElhinney for Jones’ fifth of the year at 9:36.
Just over six minutes into the second, McElhinney denied Jack Roslovic’s breakaway attempt with a blocker to keep it a one-goal game. The home side finally got on the board nearly nine minutes later to tie it at 1.
Gourde stole the puck from Laine in the neutral zone and quickly raced in on the left and whipped a cross-ice pass to Coleman. From the right dot with Merzlikins squared up, Coleman blasted a shot that deflected off the Latvian netminder’s glove and in for the right winger’s ninth goal at 14:51.
Palat redeemed himself in the third when Killorn sent him a pass and he roofed in his 13th goal for Tampa Bay’s first lead and Coleman scored into an empty net.
–Field Level Media