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Columbus Blue Jackets pull off stunning sweep of Tampa Bay Lightning

By
Connor Grott
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and his team swept the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the franchise's first-ever playoff series win. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and his team swept the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the franchise's first-ever playoff series win. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

April 17 (UPI) -- The Columbus Blue Jackets capped a historic sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Lightning, winners of the Presidents' Trophy and the first team to qualify for the postseason this year, were eliminated in record-setting speed. Tampa Bay became the first team in the NHL expansion era, which started in 1967-68, to go winless in the opening round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season.

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Tampa Bay tied the NHL record with 62 wins and compiled the fourth-most points (128) in league history in the regular season.

The Blue Jackets capped the series with a dominant 7-3 victory Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. Columbus didn't clinch the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference until the 81st game of the regular season.

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It was the first-ever playoff series win in five tries for the Blue Jackets.

"I'm just happy for this organization," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told reporters. "That's just one step in the right direction and it was a long time coming for the fans and this group. We've been battling like crazy all year long and to beat a team like Tampa in the first round, and the way we did, just so proud of these guys."

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The Lightning's only lead in the entire series came in Game 1. Tampa Bay had a 3-0 advantage in the first period but the Blue Jackets rallied for a 4-3 victory. Columbus rattled off a 5-1 win in Game 2 and a 3-1 victory in Game 3.

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The Blue Jackets advance to the second round for a matchup against the Boston-Toronto winner.

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