Lightning beat Blue Jackets 3-2 in shootout

Into the second, the Lightning would get a power-play when Ratislav Kesla took a hooking penalty. Stamkos took the puck at the right point and blasted a slap shot. The puck deflected off Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot and into a wide open net. For Stamkos, it was his second of the game and 35th of the year. The Lightning really looked to be in control at this point, but the Blue Jackets would respond when Mike Lundin got caught at the blue line. Rick Nash took the puck up ice on a 2-1 and took a wrist shot that rang off the post. The rebound sat in the crease until Derick Brassard was able to knock it across the goal line to tie the game at two. The goal at the 15:16 mark was Brassard's 11th of the year.

The Lightning offense came up empty in the third period, going nearly half the period with0ut a shot. Columbus could not convert either, sending both teams to overtime, where the deadlock continued.

In the shootout, Victor Hedman, Adam Hall, and Steven Stamkos all failed to convert on their attempts. It was Ryan Malone who beat Garon to give the Bolts the edge, and Dwayne Roloson shut the door on the final Blue Jackets attempt to send the Lightning to the victory.

This was a key win on a number of fronts. First, it was against a team that was below .500 in the standings, an area the team has struggled in. With Washington losing in overtime, it once again gave the Lightning sole posession of first place in the Southeast Division.

"We really didn't want to pay attention to their record," Stamkos said of the Blue Jackets. "You cant take anyone lightly in this league, anyone can beat anyone on any given night. It was a hard fought game that could have gone either way. We will take the two points."

The gamble by head coach Guy Boucher of giving the team two days off to rest paid off for the Lightning in the end.

"I think there were some positives tonight," Boucher said. "The power-play was good. We should have scored on the second one. I thought it was great. The penalty kill was really good. I think we even got a shot on their last power-play."

The Lightning will have a chance to build on this win when they take on an Atlanta Thrashers team that has been struggling a bit of late, and a team the Lightning have a long winning streak against. Face-off is at 7:30 in Atlanta.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning returned to home ice Tuesday night after two days off, hoping to put an end to a two-game losing streak when they took on the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was an interesting test for a Lightning team that has struggled against teams below .500 this year. It was a test the Lightning would pass, as they beat the Blue Jackets 3-2 in a shootout.

The Blue Jackets had the early jump in this game and were all over the Lightning in the early going. They cashed in on the early pressure on a seemingly innocent looking play. Anton Vermette chipped a puck off the glass in his own defensive zone, and Brett Clark took a bad route in pursuit and it allowed R.J. Umberger to come in alone on a breakaway. Umberger beat Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead. For Umberger, the goal at 7:34 was his 16th of the year. The Lightning would answer back before the end of the period when Victor Hedman went end to end on the rush, and fed Steven Stamkos, who beat Mathieu Garon with a wrist shot to tie the game at one a piece. For Stamkos, it was his league leading 34th goal of the year at the 17:52 mark.

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