Extra frames are becoming the rule for Tampa Bay as the contest game marked the second consecutive shootout for the Lightning and sixth regulation tie in 11 games this season. Tonight, they had to battle back from two deficits to get to overtime and claim a point.
The Lightning managed to get on the board first with 16:29 gone in the first period, when Evgeny Artyukhin swung behind the New Jersey net and left the puck for Mark Recchi. Recchi’s perfect centering pass found Jussi Jokinen alone in front of the crease and he did not miss.
Jokinen’s goal, his third of the season, was the only score of the first period.
New Jersey netminder Kevin Weekes, making only his second start since January ’08 in place of the injured Martin Brodeur, faced 9 Tampa Bay shots in the opening period while Mike Smith, starting his second consecutive game for the Lightning, stopped all 8 Devil shots he faced.
Mike Smith continued his spectacular work in net, as he contributed several highlight reel saves again tonight. Early in the second period, Smith robbed New Jersey forward Patrik Elias with a diving save to his left, and he was equally effective later in the period when Travis Zajac broke in alone, shorthanded. In the overtime Smith came up big again when he robbed Jamie Langenbrunner with a diving glove save.
New Jersey was able to tie the game at the 16:05 mark of the second when a sharp-angle shot from just below the left face off circle by David Clarkson eluded Smith.
With Jokinen in the penalty box at 18:02 for high sticking, the Devils grabbed the lead 43 seconds into their power play as Patrick Elias flipped a shot over Smith’s shoulder from just beyond the crease.
The Lightning were able to tie the game at 2-2 when Jokinen converted a power play opportunity at 10:59, with New Jersey defenseman Sheldon Brookbank off the ice for delay of game. Jokinen’s second score of the night came as a result of excellent puck movement with the man advantage. Andrej Meszaros and Mark Recchi were credited with assists. Recchi had assists on both Jokinen tallies.
New Jersey regained the lead at 15:10 when Jay Pandolfo retrieved a rebound that got away from Smith for the Devil’s third goal of the night.
That lead proved short-lived as 1:30 later, Martin St. Louis hacked at the puck in front of the New Jersey net and it hopped over Weekes. The goal, St. Louis’ second of the season, came on the power play and was assisted by Vincent Lecavalier and Paul Ranger.
Both teams had opportunities to end the contest in overtime as they matched each other with four shots on net but both goalies were equal to the task.
While the Lightning shootout victory Saturday night against Ottawa lasted eight rounds, tonight’s ended after three. Levacalier got the Lightning out ahead when he led off the shootout with a forehand shot over Weekes’ glove, but Patrick Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner both were able to convert their opportunities to give the Devils the win.