The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up on the wrong side of NHL history, getting swept in the first round of the playoffs after one of the best regular seasons ever.
The Columbus Blue Jackets capped a stunning sweep of the Presidents Trophy winners with a 7-3 victory Tuesday night. Tampa Bay became the first team in the expansion era, which began in 1967-68, to go winless in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season.
And what a season it was. Tampa Bay tied the NHL record for wins with 62 and amassed 128 points, fourth in NHL history.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, didn’t clinch the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot until the 81st game. But they outplayed the Lightning with a smothering forecheck and stellar goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky.
Columbus won its first-ever playoff series in its fifth try and advances to play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series, which the Maple Leafs lead 2-1.
Rookie Alexandre Texier scored twice for the Blue Jackets. Pierre Luc-Dubois had a goal and a pair of assists. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the go-ahead goal after Tampa Bay tied it at 3.
Steven Stamkos, Cedric Paquette and Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay, which never led in this elimination game.
ISLANDERS 3, PENGUINS 1
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jordan Eberle scored for the fourth straight game, Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots and New York finished off Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh to pull off a stunning sweep.
Josh Bailey set up Brock Nelson’s go-ahead goal late in the first period and added an empty-net score with 38 seconds remaining as the Islanders easily captured the franchise’s second playoff series victory in 26 years.
The Islanders trailed for less than five minutes across four games against the Penguins, whose 13th straight postseason appearance ended quietly. Pittsburgh managed just six goals in the series, including Jake Guentzel’s first of the postseason 35 seconds into the game.
It wasn’t nearly enough to stop the Islanders.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang whiffed while trying to pinch into the New York zone, creating a 2-on-1 the other way that Eberle finished to even it at 1 just 1:34 after Guentzel had put Pittsburgh in front.