TAMPA, Fla. – Vincent Lecavalier had another multiple-point outing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but a 34-save effort by New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur was enough to hold off a late surge by the Bolts. Although Tampa Bay out-shot New Jersey 14-1 in the final frame, a three-goal second period gave the visiting Devils a 3-2 victory.
Brian Gionta scored twice and leading scorer Zach Parise added two assists as New Jersey claimed the win in this season’s final meeting between the clubs at the St. Pete Times Forum.
As the teams skated through a scoreless first period goaltender Johan Holmqvist held 13 Devils shots off the board. David Clarkson had one of the strongest chances of the frame after New Jersey gained control of the puck off a draw. With the puck making its way behind the Lightning net, John Madden tapped a pass ahead to Clarkson who was denied by a glove save.
Michel Ouellet responded for Tampa Bay with a pair of late chances. Brodeur kicked an intial attempt from the right side before Ouellet saw a shot sail inches from the net. Although Lecavalier was hell off the board late in the period, he would need less than a minute to score in the second.
After closing out the opening frame with a diving shot from the left faceoff circle Lecavalier opened the scoring 35 seconds into the second period. Posting his 16th goal of the season Lecavalier flicked a wrist shot from the top of the slot for the score.
Jan Hlavac looked to build the Lightning lead moments later, snapping a shot from the right hash marks. Brodeur got the tip of his glove on the puck for the save before his Devils teammates tied the game at one.
Playing with a 5-on-3 man-advantage, Gionta scored 4:49 into the second to get New Jersey on the board. After Jamie Langenbrunner passed the puck down to Parise at the goal line, the Devils winger fed a pass through the crease to Gionta. Positioned to the right of Holmqvist, Gionta banged the shot to the open stick side for his sixth goal of the season.
With the pace of the game picking up the clubs exchanged a handful of scoring chances. Shortly after the tying goal Brad Lukowich settled the puck in the offensive zone before passing back to Brad Richards at the right side boards for a hard shot.
The Lightning later put a quick sequence of shots on the New Jersey net but were held off the board on their attempts. After blocking a Paul Ranger slapshot from the right point, Brodeur stifled two rebound shots by Jan Hlavac deep in the slot. Chris Gratton fired off a fourth shot that hit Brodeur’s shoulder and fell to the crease where he stopped the play.
Holmqvist responded at the opposite end of the ice, holding off a shot from the left faceoff circle by Clarkson before stopping a Sergei Brylin attempt at the top of the crease.
Within minutes Lecavalier fed a pass from the deep right corner to Martin St. Louis in the slot, but Brodeur closed his pads on the shot for the save.
Despite the attempt, a little past the midpoint of the period Gionta added his second of the night to give New Jersey a one-goal lead. Skating down the left wing, Gionta fired a shot that rang off the right post and into the net. Less than one minute later Clarkson added his second goal of the season, tipping a pass by Madden at the side of the net.
Tampa Bay continued pressuring New Jersey through the second period before Jason Ward opened the scoring 36 seconds into the third.
Recording his third goal of the season, Ward picked up his leg at the corner of the crease to let a slapshot by Ranger find the net. Turning to bang at the rebound Ward popped the puck over Brodeur to bring the Lightning within one, 3-2.
As Tampa Bay worked to tie the contest, Vaclav Prospal saw a shot denied at the side of the Devils net before the Lightning tried to capitalize on a late power play opportunity.
With Parise in the box for hooking, St. Louis made a cross-zone pass to Richards who fed Lecavalier for a slap shot at the left point. Coming off the rebound Ward was stopped on an attempt at the front of the crease before Brodeur saved a shot by Richards at the side of the net. Although Ouellet beat Brodeur with a shot that squeaked through the five-hole, the puck never made its way across the line on the play.
The Lightning went on to out-shoot the Devils 36-21 in the contest, and both clubs connected once on the power play. Lecavalier led all skaters with six shots in the contest.
Posting his team-leading 16th goal of the season Lecavalier sits one goal shy of 250 goals in his career. The Tampa Bay center leads the NHL with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) and has recorded multiple points in 10 of his previous 11 games.
Lecavalier and St. Louis are tied for the team lead in scoring against the Devils with five points each this season. St. Louis has recorded five assists versus New Jersey while Lecavalier has added four goals and one helper through three games.
Tampa Bay is 8-3-1 on home ice through 12 games this season, and has allowed two or less goals in four of the previous five games at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Following a three-day break the Lightning will return to the road for back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Tampa Bay plays their first contest of the year against a Western Conference opponent on Wednesday, November 28 (8:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) when they visit the Blackhawks for the lone meeting between the teams this season
Martin St. Louis