The Devils were held to just six shots through the halfway point on Friday against the Lightning, but Jamie Langenbrunner made the last one count.
The New Jersey forward found the back of the net with just 38 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Devils a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay at the Prudential Center.
“It was kind of a defensive battle to start the game. Anytime you’re playing New Jersey it seems to end up that way,” recently recalled center Blair Jones.
Vincent Lecavalier netted the game’s first goal at 18:34 in the second period off of a wrap-around that slipped under the left skate of Martin Brodeur. Jeff Halpern was credited with the assist, marking his sixth point in his last four games.
“It was a great play by Halpy [Jeff Halpern],” Lecavalier said. “He lost the puck, then retrieved it again and was just able to make a pass to me. It might have been a little lucky but I’ll take it.”
Brian Rolston knotted the game at a goal apiece on the power play at 18:45 after the Lightning’s Lukas Krajicek was sent to the penalty box for slashing.
Following the equalizer, New Jersey received two additional consecutive opportunities with the man advantage, scoring on one of them as Niclas Bergfors put the Devils up 2-1 from the right circle with a wrist shot that went five-hole on goaltender Antero Niittymaki.
Martin St. Louis’ attempt to even things up hit the post and Matt Walker’s attempt minutes later hit off the side of the net as Brodeur preserved the lead.
It wouldn’t last long.
Steve Downie converted with the man advantage on a tic-tac-toe feed from Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone at 17:00 in the third period. Stamkos recorded his sixth point in as many games and Downie tallied his fourth in the same span.
As the game appeared to be heading into overtime for the third time this season in as many tries, Langenbrunner tipped the puck in the net for the go-ahead goal with just over half a minute left that gave New Jersey its seventh win in its last 10 contests.
Bolts forward Paul Szczechura exited the game early and did not return due to a lower body injury.
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