Tampa Bay Lightning open Stanley Cup playoffs, Host Columbus in Game 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning open the National Hockey League playoffs tonight as the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They won the President’s trophy for most points in the league, and the fourth most in a season in league history.

The Bolts will be hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Tampa is led by Nikita Kucherov, who won this year’s Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer with 128 points.

Tampa Bay is getting a key member of its defense corps back tonight. Victor Hedman, the 2018 Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenseman, returns to the lineup. He’s missed the last ten days with an upper body injury.

Tampa Bay won the season series, sweeping all three games against the Blue Jackets. Columbus won seven of its last 8 games to sneak into the playoffs during the last weekend of the season.

Game 2 is Friday night in Tampa.

This story was written in Orlando, Florida.