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Lightning Shocked By Ignominious Elimination From NHL Playoffs By Blue Jackets

The Latest Sports News With NHL They say goodbye without truly having said hello. Everything they accomplished during the NHL’s regular season now mocks the Tampa Bay Lightning. The...

The Latest Sports News With NHL

They say goodbye without truly having said hello. Everything they accomplished during the NHL’s regular season now mocks the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Columbus Blue Jackets struck Lightning. Four straight times. In the first round of the playoffs. Tuesday night’s 7-3 series-ender concluded with a series of empty net goals for the Jackets as the befuddled Lightning seemed to realize their future was behind them.

The Lightning won an NHL regular-season record 62 games, owned the league’s best power play and most successful penalty-killing unit and didn’t so much win games as dominate them (30 victories by three goals or more).

And now, as redemption stories have thrilled the sports world (Virginia men’s basketball title, Tiger Woods), the Lighting stand at the opposite end as vast disappointments.

“We’re expected to go far this year, and we go nowhere. In 2015, no one expected us to go anywhere, and we went far, with the same core of players,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “We couldn’t find our game. It’s that clear. For six days in April, we couldn’t find it.”

And the problems started in Game 1, when Tampa Bay grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first period and slowly let it slip away in a 4-3 loss at home. The Lightning was never the same. They were outscored 15-4 over the next three games.

The 2015 team Cooper referenced wove its way to the Stanley Cup finals. The 2017-18 team reached the conference finals. This team is reaching for its golf clubs.

The Lightning, which joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1992, has known postseason success. Tampa Bay claimed the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2004, while coached by John Tortorella.

Tortorella is still around.

He coaches the Blue Jackets.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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