National Hockey League playoffs 2019: Agitated Nikita Kucherov talks Game 3 suspension: 'It sucks'

Nikita Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Markus Nutivaara

Ondrej Palat gave Tampa a fighting chance with an early third period goal, but even as they continually tried to test Sergei Bobrovsky, they couldn't solve the Blue Jackets' netminder, who ended the night with 30 saves.

Already without Nikita Kucherov (suspension) and Victor Hedman (injury), the Lightning still had enough weapons to mount a comeback in the series starting with Game 3, but the suffocating play of the Blue Jackets kept Tampa's stars quiet.

After a league-leading 128 points in the regular season, Kucherov has been held pointless through two games versus Columbus. They pummeled the Lightning 5-1 in Game 2, and solidly outplayed them for all but a few minutes on Sunday.

The NHL-best Lightning now face the tall task of climbing out of an 0-2 series deficit without the help of their best player and the league's likely Hart Trophy victor.

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Game 1 and Game 2 took place in Tampa, but the Blue Jackets didn't let home-ice advantage get in their way.

The memory of last season's outcome should act as a chip on the shoulders of the Blue Jackets as they aim to win their first playoff series in franchise history.

The Lightning matched the NHL's record for regular-season wins (62) but have been one of the biggest disappointments early in the playoffs, losing their first two games to the Blue Jackets, who snuck in with the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot. The Blue Jackets last won a home playoff game on April 18, 2017.

Columbus also got goals from Cam Atkinson, Zach Werenski, Riley Nash and Artemi Panarin. Columbus has scored four power-play goals in the series.

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