Lightning Fall to New Jersey in Shootout, 4-3
Stamkos Scores Twice for Tampa Bay
There are many ways to lose a hockey game, but few could be as disappointing as the shootout loss that the Tampa Bay Lightning suffered at their home opener against the New Jersey Devils at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight.
The Lightning, undoubtedly, put together their best effort of the season to date, fighting back twice to tie the score before New Jersey sent the game to overtime by scoring with just one second remaining in regulation.
Tampa Bay (0-1-2) got off to a slow start in the opening period, producing an early shot on Martin Brodeur in the New Jersey net, and then going without a second shot for almost six minutes. Meanwhile, the Devils, also seeking their first win of the season, jumped out to an early lead when forward Zach Parise grabbed his first goal of the season, at 4:46, on a power play while Lightning forward James Wright
sat in the penalty box for high-sticking.
Just beyond the halfway point of the stanza, the Lightning began an aggressive forecheck which led to several New Jersey turnovers and, although they were unable to cash in, several Tampa Bay scoring chances.
Lightning forward Ryan Malone
almost tied the game late in the period when, skating shorthanded, he broke in alone on the New Jersey net but Brodeur was able to poke check the puck off his stick before Malone could fire.
The Lightning came out flying to begin period two, dominating every facet of play and generating multiple scoring opportunities which Brodeur was the equal to until Steven Stamkos
blasted a shot from the high slot into the New Jersey net to tie the game at 9:49. The power play goal was the first of the season for Stamkos and was assisted by Martin St. Louis
and rookie defenseman Victor Hedman
Tampa Bay had a scare late in period two when New Jersey forward Jamie Langenbrunner collided with Lightning netminder Mike Smith
after a scrum in front of the crease. Smith lay on the ice for several minutes, bleeding from a cut to the side of his face. He was able to remain in the game.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, New Jersey forward Jay Pandolfo got a stick on a bouncing puck in front of the Lightning goal crease and maneuvered the puck past Smith to regain the lead for the Devils, 2-1.
Tampa Bay forward Zenon Konopka and Bryce Salvador of New Jersey engaged in a protracted battle to close out the period. Both combatants received five minute fighting majors.
In the second period, The Lightning outshot the Devils, 25 – 9 and outchanced them 12-6. But despite dominating play, Tampa Bay opened the final period still trailing on the scoreboard, 2-1.
At 1:40 of the final period, New Jersey was called for a bench penalty for having too many men on the ice, and just 12 seconds later, the Lightning tied the score for the second time in the game behind the second goal of the night for Stamkos. St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier
collected assists on the goal. For St. Louis, it was his second assist of the game and fifth point of the season.
Four minutes later Tampa Bay crawled into the lead as heralded rookie Hedman demonstrated to the crowd why he was the number two overall pick in the entry draft as he carried the puck down the left boards and feathered a perfect cross-ice pass onto the stick of forward Todd Fedoruk. Fedoruk roofed the shot into the New Jersey net, over the diving Brodeur. The assist was the second for Hedman on the night, and third point overall for the season. Mattias Ohlund
also was credited with an assist on the goal.
The remainder of the period was a back and forth battle until, with Brodeur on the bench for the extra attacker, New Jersey forward Travis Zajac pushed the puck past Smith to send the game into overtime with one second remaining on the game clock.
Both goaltenders were outstanding in the five minute overtime session, with Smith making acrobatic saves on both Parise and Zajac and Brodeur stopping Alex Tanguay as he tried to convert a pass from Stamkos in front of the crease.
The shootout was over quickly, however, as both Parise and Langenbrunner scored for the Devils while Stamkos and Tanguay came up short on the other end of the ice.
Afterwards, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet reflected on letting the win get away with one second remaining.
“I’ve been involved in the NHL for 25 or 26 years,” Tocchet said. “I’ve been around a lot of goofy and bad things that have happened, but this is a top three or four for me.”
And for everyone watching, too.
LIGHTNING BOLTS: Victor Hedman
led all players with 26:38 of ice time…Tampa Bay finished with 44 shots on goal to 34 for New Jersey…defenseman Andrej Meszaros led the Lightning with 7 shots…Tampa Bay was 1 for 4 on the power play…Tampa Bay will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
|Three star selections