COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Brayden Point scored 1:56 into overtime, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Thursday night for their third straight win to begin the season.
Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Joonas Korpisalo traded great saves in extra time before Point tapped in a pass from Victor Hedman.
“(Hedman) wheels around and puts it on my tape and I’m able to get enough of it,” Point said. “I didn’t get all of it, but I was lucky enough (that) it kind of bounced the right way and goes in. What a great feed by Heddy.”
Blake Coleman and Mathieu Joseph also scored for the Stanley Cup champions, and Vasilevskiy had 23 saves. Tampa Bay became the first defending champion to start the season 3-0 since Dallas in the 1999-00 season.
“Every single game the bounces are not going to go your way all the time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “But if you trust what you’re doing and trust the structure and you don’t ever have to question the guys’ effort, good things will happen. And that’s what been happening for us.”
Nick Foligno tied the game for Columbus 47 seconds into the third period. Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored, and Korpisalo stopped 34 shots as the Blue Jackets slipped to 1-2-2 in their first five.
It started out well for the Blue Jackets, who were celebrating their 20th home opener, albeit in front an empty house in Nationwide Arena.
Bjorkstrand scored the fastest goal in the history of the franchise, beating Vasilevskiy on the glove side just 21 seconds into the game. He got help from Max Domi, who stripped Hedman in the neutral zone and set up Bjorkstrand’s goal from the right circle.
Coleman responded 16:33 into the second period, getting an easy tip-in goal off a slot pass from Ryan McDonagh. Joseph beat Korpisalo with a one-timer from the slot 83 seconds later to give the Lightning their first lead of the night.
Foligno tied it again seven seconds into a power play when he redirected a Bjorkstrand shot.
Columbus coach John Tortorella has been dissatisfied with the energy his team has showed early this season. He liked the effort against the Lightning a little more.
“We weren’t sharp all the time,” he said. “We had some good minutes, they surged on us. There’s a number of things we have to clean up, but we find a way to get a point.”
DUBOIS IN THE DOGHOUSE
Pierre-Luc Dubois apparently has gotten on the wrong side of Tortorella again. The top-line center played five shifts in the first period before being benched with 4:36 left, and he stayed there for the rest of the game. The 22-year-old Dubois, who signed a two-year contract before the season but let it be known he wanted to be traded, has clashed with Tortorella in the past. Tortorella didn’t want to talk much about it afterward, and Dubois wasn’t made available to the media.
“I’ve coached (Dubois) like this for a couple of years, as far as trying to get him to get some growth in his game and growth as a pro,” Tortorella told reporters. “So, nothing changes. There’s more spotlight on it, I get that and I get you guys have to ask me the questions, but you’re asking the wrong guy.”
The Lightning and Blue Jackets met in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals the last two seasons. The first game of last season’s series went into five overtimes, which was the fourth-longest game in NHL history. Tampa Bay won the series and eventually the Stanley Cup. In 2019, Columbus stunned the Lightning with a first-round sweep, marking the first time in franchise history the Blue Jackets won a playoff series.
The same teams play again Saturday afternoon in Columbus. The Jackets play seven of their next nine at Nationwide Arena. The Lightning are in the midst of a four-game trip after having a pair of games against Dallas postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak with the Stars.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL
Follow Mitch Stacy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mitchstacy