Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 17, 2011
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Mathieu Garon stopped 26 shots to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday night. Stamkos' second-period goal gave him the NHL lead with 20. He came into the night sharing it with Milan Michalek of idle Ottawa. Blair Jones and Eric Brewer also added rare goals for the Lightning, who won for the third time in 10 games. Garon, who spent two seasons with the Blue Jackets, returned to Columbus for the first time since signing with the Lightning as a free agent last summer. R.J. Umberger and Rick Nash scored for Columbus, which also got two assists from Vinny Prospal. Garon made several big saves in the closing minutes as the Blue Jackets turned up the pressure. Umberger's blind, between-the-legs centering pass to Derek Dorsett was loose in the crease for an instant before Garon covered it. The Blue Jackets had a man advantage with 3 minutes left when rookie John Moore had a clear shot from the slot, but was wide left. Garon also blocked a rising slap shot by Nikita Nikitin with his chest with just over a minute remaining. Tampa Bay, 7-6-1 when scoring first, took a 1-0 lead when the Blue Jackets turned the puck over in their defensive zone, and Teddy Purcell ended up with it behind the net. His pass ramped off the stick blade of Columbus defenseman John Moore. Jones, crashing the net, jammed the puck past Mason for his second goal this season. Late in the period, another infrequent scorer found the net for the Lightning. Stamkos passed from the left boards across the ice to Brewer, who was trailing the play. He collected the puck, skated laterally to the top of the right circle and unleashed a hard, low slap shot that eluded Mason for his first goal. The Blue Jackets, finishing up a five-game homestand, cut it to 2-1 in the second on a power play. Umberger took a well-timed lead pass from Prospal and roared in on Garon. They bumped at the left edge of the net, with Garon pushed out of the crease. Umberger skated around and had little trouble scoring on the wraparound by beating a late-arriving Brewer. Less than 5 minutes later, Stamkos took advantage of sloppy play by the Blue Jackets in the defensive zone to make it 3-1. Jared Boll and Nikitin had chances to clear the puck but failed before Stamkos took a great setup from Vincent Lecavalier to score. Before the period was over, Columbus cut the gap to a goal again. On a rush, Nash couldn't control a bouncing puck and Jeff Carter ended up just wide with his shot. But Nash grabbed the puck and jammed it before Garon could react, netting his 10th. NOTES: Dorsett returned to the ice for Columbus after missing two games (left lower leg) following a collision with Boston G Tim Thomas a week earlier. ... Before the game, Prospal was honored for becoming the 268th player to play in 1,000 NHL games - reaching the mark on Nov. 25 against Buffalo. He played in 468 games for the Lightning. ... Tampa Bay C Nate Thompson (lower body) left in the first period and didn't return. ... Umberger's goal was his 80th with the Blue Jackets, eight shy of tying Geoff Sanderson for third on the club's career list.
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