St. Louis, Vrbata, Malone Score As Comeback Falls Short
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 7-3 Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
By the time the Lightning got into gear, midway through the second period, the Devils had already built a five goal advantage. Despite the long odds, the Lightning did make a valiant comeback effort, netting three goals in a span of 3:34, including a penalty shot from Ryan Malone that flew over the left shoulder of New Jersey goaltender Scott Clemmensen and into the net.
The three goals cut the New Jersey lead to two, but that was as close as the Lightning would come. New Jersey jumped back out to a four goal lead in the third period, behind two goals by Dainius Zubrus, who tripled his season output for scores to six, behind a total of four goals on the night.
New Jersey sped to an early lead with 1:44 gone in the first period as Michael Rupp redirected a shot past Olaf Kolzig, who started in the Tampa Bay net in place of the injured Mike Smith. Parise stretched the New Jersey lead to two when his slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle beat Kolzig with less than three minutes to go in the period.
The beginning of the second period was all New Jersey, in sharp contrast to the latter half of the stanza, when Tampa Bay began to fight back. Zubrus beat Kolzig twice within three minutes, followed by a goal by Brian Gionta, which made the score 5-0.
At that point, Kolzig, was replaced in the net by Karri Ramo, who was called up from the Norfolk Admirals on an emergency basis, due to Smith’s injury. When he left the game, Kolzig had made 23 saves on 28 shots.
“There wasn’t a lot of grit in front of Kolzig tonight,” interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet said after the game.
The change in goal seemed to energize the Lightning as they started to dig into the New Jersey lead. Radim Vrbata got his second goal of the season as he redirected a wraparound pass from Vaclav Prospal. Marty St. Louis picked up goal number five for the season moments later off a pass from Vincent Lecavalier. Ryan Malone completed the Tampa Bay scoring when he was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down from behind as he broke in alone on Clemmensen. The penalty shot goal was only Malone’s second attempt in his career, and he has scored on each.
At the start of the final period, the Lightning appeared determined to finish the comeback they had begun in the second. They skated hard and fired shot after shot on the Devil net, until, with 7:21 gone in the period, Patrik Elias forced a turnover at center ice and flipped the puck ahead to Zubrus, breaking in alone on Ramo. That was goal number three on the night for Zubrus, and seemed to take much of the air out of the comeback for the Bolts. Zubrus completed the scoring with just over five minutes to play, with Elias getting assist number three on the evening.
When it ended, the shot total was New Jersey, 45, to Tampa Bay’s 29. Ramo, who played Saturday evening in Lowell for the AHL Admirals, had 15 saves on 17 shots.
The Lightning will attempt to bounce back when they close out the home stand on Wednesday night against a familiar foe, the New York Rangers. If familiarity breeds success, Tampa Bay should get back on track. Tampa Bay has faced the Rangers three times already this season, and twice in the pre-season.
1 - 0 NJD
2 - 0 NJD
3 - 0 NJD
4 - 0 NJD
5 - 0 NJD
5 - 1 NJD
Martin St. Louis
5 - 2 NJD
5 - 3 NJD
6 - 3 NJD
7 - 3 NJD
Too many men/ice - bench
Interference on goalkeeper