The Lightning have become the first Presidents' Trophy winner to be swept in the first round of the postseason after suffering a loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Columbus completed a four-game sweep of the Lightning with a 7–3 win at Nationwide Arena, making it the Blue Jackets' first playoff series win in franchise history. The Blue Jackets went on a tear late in the third period to pad their lead with three goals, including an empty net goal scored by Matt Duchene in the final minute.
In the second period, the Lightning threatened to keep Columbus from sweeping by scoring two goals. However, Oliver Bjorkstrand netted one late in the period to give the Blue Jackets the game-winning goal.
Tampa Bay won the Presidents' Trophy in mid-March before finishing the regular season with 62 wins to tie the 1995–96 Red Wings for the all-time record for single-season wins. Right wing Nikita Kucherov also broke the NHL record for the most points scored in a single season by a Russian-born player (128). It was previously held by Alexander Mogilny, who scored 127 in 1992–93.
However, the Lightning's regular season success did not carry over to the postseason. Captain Steven Stamkos failed to score any goals in the first three playoff games after recording 45 in the regular season. Stamkos finally added one in Game 4, scoring in the first period with assists from Anthony Cirelli and Kucherov.
Game 3 was particulary rough for Tampa Bay with several players out of the lineup. Kucherov missed the contest after being suspended for boarding Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara in Game 2. Defensemen Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman were also out with injuries.
The Lightning returned to the playoffs this year for the 11th time in franchise history. They won the Stanley Cup in 2004 over the Flames.