Blue Jackets Beat Lightning to Take Stunning 3-0 Lead in 2019 NHL Playoffs

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2019

Columbus Blue Jackets' Cam Atkinson celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. The Blue Jackets beat the Lightning 3-1. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning had the best team in the NHL during the regular season, but they are now on the brink of a quick exit in the playoffs. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets earned a 3-1 victory over the Lightning on Sunday, putting them up 3-0 in the first-round series. Sergei Bobrovsky saved 30 of the 31 shots he faced in net, while Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist in the win.

One more victory sends them to the second round of the playoffs, where the franchise has never been in its 19-year history.

This would obviously be a surprise in and of itself, but the fact the Lightning are on the other end of the upset is the biggest shock. Tampa Bay dominated the NHL over the course of the 2018-19 campaign, winning the Presidents' Trophy with 128 points in 82 games. No one else was within 20 points of the squad that had the best offense in hockey.

The Lightning's 62 wins matched the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most victories in a season.

However, they have struggled over the past three games, scoring only two goals in the last two losses.

Observers had a wide range of reactions to the latest defeat:

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Tampa Bay still has another chance to turn things around, but this has been a massive disappointment for the Stanley Cup favorites.