Blue Jackets Win 1st-Ever Playoff Series with Historic Sweep of Lightning

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 17, 2019

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets beats Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning for a goal during the second period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Alexandre Texier scored two empty-netters, Pierre-Luc Dubois posted a goal and two assists and Oliver Bjorkstrand netted the game-winner as the wild-card Columbus Blue Jackets stunned the Presidents' Trophy champion Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 to sweep their NHL first-round postseason series on Tuesday.

The Lightning tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings' record for the most regular-season wins in NHL history with 62.

However, they left the postseason with none after the Blue Jackets outscored the Lightning 19-8 over the four games.

Tampa Bay also became just the fifth team in league history and first since 1938 to finish with the league's best regular-season record but get swept in an opening-round postseason series, per Sportsnet Stats:

Sportsnet Stats @SNstats

#CBJ sweep the Lightning Tampa Bay is the 5th team in history to finish with the NHL’s best regular season record & get swept in their opening round playoff series, joining 1937-38 Bruins 1928-29 Canadiens 1923-24 Senators 1920-21 St. Pats

ESPN reported that earning the most regular-season wins in an American professional sports league's history does not correlate with championship success, oddly enough:

ESPN @espn

The Tampa Bay Lightning's 62 regular-season wins were tied for the most by a team in NHL history. They got swept out of the playoffs in the first round. https://t.co/30hrVX3OQX

The Lightning are also the first team since the 2011-12 Vancouver Canucks to earn the Presidents' Trophy but lose in the first round.

Bjorkstrand was in the right place at the right time to put home the winning goal at the 18:46 mark of the second period:

FOX Sports Ohio @FOXSportsOH

THIS IS MADNESS! @BlueJacketsNHL answer right back with a goal of their own. #CBJ now leads 4-3. #StanleyCup Playoffs. STREAM: https://t.co/7PafN92oxZ https://t.co/42seKeb34O

The Blue Jackets held off a furious Lightning charge in the third period thanks in part to goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 13 saves during the final 20 minutes.

Eventually, Columbus finished off Tampa Bay with three empty-net goals, earning a spot in the next round. The NHL Public Relations team noted the significance of Columbus' first postseason series win in franchise history:

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

The @BlueJacketsNHL are just the fourth team in NHL history to record a sweep in their first-ever series victory. #NHLStats #StanleyCup https://t.co/w9KvpofYXI

The odds were clearly stacked against Columbus heading into the series.

Patrick Everson of Covers reported the pre-series odds:

Patrick Everson @Covers_Vegas

Per @SuperBookUSA, prior to #StanleyCup Playoffs, No. 1 overall seed Lightning opened -425 favorites to win series vs. Blue Jackets, and Tampa Bay was bet up to -450. Columbus opened +325 and moved to +350 pre-series. Blue Jackets swept series tonight. @Covers

A hypothetically successful $450 bet on Tampa Bay would have netted $100.

Per the Greek Sportsbook, Columbus had astronomical 45-1 odds to sweep Tampa Bay. Jeff Sherman of the Westgate SuperBook also noted what a four-game moneyline parlay would have netted a bettor:

Jeff Sherman @golfodds

a 4 game money line parlay on the Columbus Blue Jackets would equate to 55/1 on the sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning outscored the Blue Jackets 17-3 in three regular-season games, making the playoff result more shocking. Columbus' postseason appearance was also in doubt until the final week of the season thanks to the Montreal Canadiens, who finished just two points behind the Blue Jackets for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Understandably, many Lightning fans were stunned and frustrated that the Stanley Cup favorites didn't win a playoff game, and the team's first tweet after the loss reflected those sentiments:

Tampa Bay Lightning @TBLightning

We don’t have any words and we know you don’t want to hear them. We understand your anger, your frustration, your sadness. Everything you’re feeling – we get it. This isn’t the ending we imagined, and certainly not the one we wanted. Thank you for being there the entire way.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos admitted that Columbus was "the better team."

In the other locker room, Blue Jackets captain and center Nick Foligno was clearly happy to break a franchise cold streak, per Alison Lukan of The Athletic:

Alison @AlisonL

Foligno heads off the ice to room and says with authority “20 f**cking years coming” #CBj

Columbus now enters the conference semifinal for the first time in franchise history and will play either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Boston Bruins.

Toronto currently leads its series over Boston, two games to one. Game 4 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET in Toronto.