The Lightning have grown accustomed to late game rallies at home this season. They just haven’t had that surge come up short at the St. Pete Times Forum.
A late third-period rally sparked by a pair of goals from Martin St. Louis and Ryan Shannon erased a three-goal deficit in the game’s final 20 minutes, but came up just short as the Bolts fell 4-2 to the New Jersey Devils, who snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game home win streak.
“This game takes a full team effort,” Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said. “But tonight, we just didn’t have enough.”
St. Louis ruined goaltender Martin Brodeur’s bid to extend his NHL record to 117 shutouts after he roofed one high up above the New Jersey net minder to make it 3-1 at 8:24 of the third.
Just 1:30 later, Shannon brought Tampa Bay to within one, scoring his first goal in 15 games as a member of the Lightning.
“We had some players show up tonight, including St. Louis and Shannon,” Boucher added. “This game tonight was not about scoring though. It was about keeping our momentum.”
Dainius Zubrus, Patrik Elias and Ryan Carter, who notched the game’s final goal with 2:03 remaining in regulation, scored for New Jersey.
The win was just the second in a row for the Devils since it won two straight to open the month of November. Brodeur finished the night with 21 saves.
“It was another good game from Marty,” Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said. “He’s a calming presence back there for us and he relieves a lot of pressure with his puck-playing ability.”
A scoreless first period was characterized by tight defense, as neither team generated much at either end. The clubs combined for just six shots through the first 10 minutes, which then turned into a 10-3 shot advantage for the Devils as the teams headed into the intermission.
Zubrus opened the game’s scoring with a wrist shot past Dwayne Roloson to the far post at 1:09 of the second.
As St. Louis attempted a cross-ice pass in his own zone, the Devils forward picked it off to create a two-on-one the other way and capitalize down at the other end.
Roloson, who had 20 saves in the game, entered Saturday’s contest with victories in each of his previous for home starts. The defeat against New Jersey was just his first at the Times Forum since the home opener more than a month ago in a 7-4 defeat to the Panthers on Oct. 17.
“We didn’t do enough in front of him, especially early on,” St. Louis said. “He can say this loss was on him, but it’s not. You can’t put this game on his shoulders. By no means is this loss his fault.”
New Jersey increased its lead on the power play just 4:56 following the game-opening tally after Elias slipped a shot through Roloson’s legs to give the Devils a two-goal advantage.
The deficit might have been worse, had the Bolts not killed off a shorthanded situation down two men with both Victor Hedman and Teddy Purcell in the box. Zach Parise had a chance to put his side up by three while on the advantage, but missed an open net after taking a pass at the side of the crease.
The Lightning, which had killed off 19 of its past 21 shorthanded situations during the six-game win streak, gave up two power-play goals at home for just the second time this season.
David Clarkson’s goal with the man advantage at 17:44 of the second not only redeemed his teammate’s missed opportunity, but also made it 3-0. Clarkson found a rebound out in front and dove head first towards the net before backhanding one from his knees into the net.
Tampa Bay, as desperately as it tried to get back into the game, had trouble mustering anything on goal. The Lightning registered just two shots in the final 13:26 of the middle frame, and at one point, went eight minutes without a single shot attempt on Brodeur.
That all changed in the third period, as Tampa Bay outshot New Jersey 10-4 through the final 20 minutes.
St. Louis roofed one up high over Brodeur after taking a backdoor feed from Shannon to cut the deficit to two with under 12 minutes to play in regulation.
Shannon’s goal just 90 seconds later then made it 3-2.
With the Lightning forward skating down near the right point, Steve Downie sent a pass right on the stick of Shannon, who rattled the underside of the crossbar for his first goal in a Lightning uniform.
The rally, though, came to an end after Roloson mishandled the puck behind his own net with 1:35 to go, allowing Carter to seal the win with the game’s final goal into an open net.