Bjorkstrand leads Blue Jackets to 5-2 win over Lightning

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Oliver Bjorkstrand led Columbus with a goal and an assist in the Blue Jackets' 5-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night that kept the Lightning from clinching the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay has a one-point lead over Boston with one game remaining for each team. The No. 3 seed will play the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the other will get the East’s No. 1 wild-card spot and a series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jakub Voracek, Cole Sillinger, Jack Roslovic and Andrew Peeke also scored in the Blue Jackets’ final home game of the season. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 25 shots in his 27th win.

Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry scored for Tampa Bay, while Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each had two assists. Brian Elliott stopped 30 shots.

Voracek put Columbus on the board with four minutes left in the first with a one-timer from the right circle off a perfect feed from rookie Kent Johnson, who notched his first NHL primary assist.

Tampa Bay had a first-period goal waved off due to goaltender interference and finally found the back of the net when Kucherov notched his ninth power-play goal of the season at the midway point of the second period.

Columbus responded 32 seconds later when Sillinger buried Bjorkstrand’s behind-the net feed.

Roslovic made it 3-1 and extended his point streak to six games with a power-play goal 15 seconds into the third period after Pat Maroon earned a pair of minors for slashing and roughing Merzlikins at the end of the second period.

Columbus went up 4-1 at 9:05 of the third after Bjorkstrand grabbed the puck along the boards and skated in on Elliott, surprising him with a wrister.

Tampa Bay pulled Elliott and made it 4-2 with a 6-on-4 power-play goal from Perry at 16:54 of the third, before Peeke scored the empty-netter with about two minutes left.

NEXT UP

Lightning: At the New York Islanders on Friday for the last game of the regular season.

Blue Jackets: At Pittsburgh on Friday for the last game of the regular season.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Nicole Kraft, The Associated Press

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