Biggest 180s: Lightning get swept in first round after record-breaking regular season

Mike Cratty
May 02, 2019 - 2:50 pm
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After an incredible regular season, things went sour for the Tampa Bay Lightning come playoff time. Their 62 wins tied the 1995-96 Red Wings for the most in a single season in NHL regular season history, and their 128 points were four shy of the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens’ record 132 points. The consensus seemed to be that it was their year to win it all for the first time since 2004.

The Columbus Blue Jackets had other plans and swept the Lightning in the first round, shocking the hockey world. Going from breaking records to being swept in the first round is quite the 180.

The craziness started in Game 1 when the Lightning coughed up a three-goal lead that they put together in the first period. They went on to lose 4-3 thanks to four unanswered Columbus goals, with the biggest one being Seth Jones’ game-winner with 5:55 to go in regulation.

Following Game 1, Columbus outscored Tampa Bay 15-5 in the next three games en route to moving on to the second round with a decisive 7-3 win in Game 4 to cap it off.

The Blue Jackets had a big microscope on them after making several big trade deadline moves to acquire the likes of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. They also held onto stars Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky despite their upcoming free agencies. They clearly wanted to go for it this year and weren't concerned about the seasons to come.

Columbus fought for a playoff spot into the final week and made it in as the second wild card team. But they clearly had talent, and the Lightning learned that the hard way as they saw their promising season do a complete 180 and crash and burn in the first round.

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