TAMPA, Fla. — Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was told Friday morning that Blue Jackets starter Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t feeling well, and there was at least a chance he would be making his season debut in the NHL.
But he didn’t know for sure until much later.
“Torts came to me after warm-ups and said, ‘You’re in,’” Korpisalo said. “It was pretty much 20 minutes before the puck dropped.”
Korpisalo had 31 saves and was particularly strong in the first period with 18, allowing the Blue Jackets to come from behind for a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning before 19,092 at Amalie Arena.
Josh Anderson had a fight and an assists, Nick Foligno scored a go-ahead power play goal, and Boone Jenner sailed home a 134-foot empty-netter in the closing minutes to keep the Blue Jackets (29-8-4) atop the Metropolitan Division and the NHL at the season’s midpoint.
“How about Korpi?” coach John Tortorella said. “He’s just unflappable. He was outstanding in the first period to give us a chance.
“We were red rotten (in the first). We have to play harder. It was embarrassing, the first period. We better not go there ever again. We not go low to that standard of play, but to their credit, in the last 40 minutes, they really played hard.”
Tortorella hinted that Korpisalo, who has been only so-so with minor-league Cleveland this season, would start tonight when the Blue Jackets play at the Florida Panthers.
Bobrovsky missed a loss Tuesday to the Carolina Hurricanes — when Anton Forsberg played in goal before being demoted — but took a full practice Thursday and thought he would be ready against the Lightning.
The Blue Jackets spoiled a night of celebration for the Lightning, which retired the franchise’s first number — Martin St. Louis’ 26 — and raised it into the rafters in a pregame ceremony.
The Jackets also completed a three-game series sweep against the Lightning, outscoring it a combined 13-5. The Lightning swept the Jackets in three games last season.
Anderson scored in all three games, finishing with three goals, two assists and a plus-3 rating.
The evening did not start well for the Blue Jackets.
“I’m not sure if it was the ceremony; I’m not sure what happened at the beginning of the game, but we no-showed,” Tortorella said. “To grab ahold of ourselves and grind away and get a win like that …”
Tortorella tried new lines at the start but quickly ditched them. When he did, the ice started to level.
At 16:40 of the second, Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard picked off a pass at the Lightning blue line and skated wide with it, flipping a wrist shot on net from above the left circle. Anderson converted the rebound.
The Blue Jackets used their power play to take the lead after Jenner’s hard work led to a holding penalty on the Lightning.
At 4:29, Foligno swept home a rebound off a slap shot by defenseman Zach Werenski to give the Blue Jackets the lead for good.
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